Thanksgiving Day Shopping? These 3 States Have Banned It

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Black Friday is steadily creeping into Thanksgiving, with many Americans lining up for doorbuster deals early in the evening each year. But there are actually three states where Black Friday isn’t allowed to infringe on family time: Rhode Island, Maine and Massachusetts all have long-standing laws banning Thanksgiving day shopping.

As the Associated Press reports, these “blue laws” prohibit department stores, large supermarkets and the like from doing any business on Thanksgiving and Christmas. That’s right, even supermarkets are covered by this law, so residents must be sure they have all the ingredients they need before the big day.

Most residents of these New England states are fine with the laws, or even happy about them. They can view the holiday as an annual day of rest that they can count on, one that won’t be marred by business, shopping or work obligations.

Rhode Island resident Debra Wall explained to the AP, “I shop all year. People need to be with their families on Thanksgiving.”

Still, some business groups complain that the laws are detrimental for business and, in an age of 24-hour online shopping, no longer serve their original purpose.

Likewise, there are some consumers for whom Thanksgiving day shopping is nonnegotiable. Bill Rennie, vice president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, said that particularly eager shoppers actually cross state lines to get into stores.

Speaking to the AP about turkey day retail, he said, “Why not give stores in Massachusetts the option?”

Not every store is covered by the blue laws, which date back to Colonial times and were once common throughout the country. While the laws vary by state, places typically allowed open include businesses like convenience stores, pharmacies, movie theaters and restaurants.