Black Friday vs. Massachusetts blue laws

With the most exciting shopping day around the corner, major retailers have already released advertisements and door buster plans for Black Friday. However, the blue laws of Massachusetts prohibit the workers from working during the Thanksgiving—which means that stores hoping to open at midnight Thursday are leaving no time for their employees to prepare for the Friday opening.


 The law is one that enforces religious practices and standards. In Massachusetts the blue laws, dating back to the Puritans of the 17th century, prohibit most retailers and grocery stores from opening on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Retailers from across the country with vendors in Massachusetts have to adapt their schedules on Black Friday to adhere to the state laws. According to, “in recent days, Walmart, Target, and Macy’s have all retreated from previously announced midnight promotions at their Massachusetts locations. Macy’s now plans a 12:30 a.m. opening on Black Friday, Target is scheduling a 1 a.m. start, and Walmart has pushed its kickoff to 4 a.m.”

A poll on Marblehead asked voters whether Massachusetts should repeal its blue laws. Only 34 percent voted “yes”, while the others considered that “Thanksgiving should be about family, food and football. The shopping can wait.”

However, many citizens in Massachusetts seem to dislike the blue laws due to the inconvenience it causes. “Will somebody please change the state law so people can shop for groceries on Thanksgiving? It would be a reprieve for cooks who have forgotten to buy nutmeg or who watched helplessly while the cranberries accidentally cascaded onto the floor,” according to an article in the Boston Globe.

The blue law is not a unique phenomenon in Massachusetts. Blue laws and prohibitions on selling certain goods on certain dates are common in many states and countries., “In Texas, for example, blue laws prohibited selling housewares such as pots, pans, and washing machines on Sunday until 1985. In Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, car dealerships continue to operate under blue law prohibitions in which an automobile may not be purchased or traded on a Sunday.

Maryland permits Sunday automobile sales only in the counties of Prince George's, Montgomery, and Howard. Similarly, Michigan restricts Sunday sales to only those counties with a population of less than 130,000.

Many states and countries also prohibited selling alcohol on Sunday mornings. In Germany, shopping on Sunday is prohibited in most areas. In Norway, the sale of alcohol on Sundays and election day is illegal.

Instead of struggling with the blue laws, people find new methods to shop during the Thanksgiving holiday. “I would rather shop on Amazon instead of waiting outside the Best Buy on Thursday night. It is more convenient and efficient. The cheap stuffs are just a click away at your fingertip,” Donny Wang, CSOM’16, said. Amazon doesn’t have to worry about the blue law, since it is a national online retailer and free from the state law.

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