T is for Thursday night shopping #AtoZChallenge
The A to Z Challenge asks bloggers to post 26 posts, one for each letter of the English alphabet, in April. Most of us choose to make these posts on a particular theme. My theme for 2023 is 1943 Washington D.C., the setting of the novel that I’m writing. Visit daily in April for a new post on my topic.
T is for Thursday night shopping
When did Government Girls shop, given that they worked 48-hour weeks? Modern Americans might assume that they shopped on Sunday, but most stores were closed on Sundays, clear through my childhood in the 1970s.
Instead, shops in Washington D.C. stayed open late on Thursday nights to accommodate people who couldn’t shop during regular business hours.
One night a week wasn’t enough to prevent massive lines and long waits at service counters. Proposals were made in the newspaper to add another night or, even, most nights.
“The Federal Diary,” a regular column about the government in the Washington Post, turned its space over to government employees on Saturdays, using initials to protect the authors’ identities. This proposal by “M.S.K.” was published on January 30, 1943:
I’d like to suggest that retailers for the duration plan their hours to serve those who serve Uncle Sam. The majority of Washington workers are Government employes. Possibly half of them are women. Even men have to shop. All that Government workers need is time and a place to spend the money they earn.
M.S.K proposed that shopping hours on Monday through Friday be 12 to 8:30 p.m. and Saturday 9:30 to 6, reasoning that people who didn’t work could shop in the afternoons.
The federal diary. (1943, Jan 30). The Washington Post (1923-1954) Retrieved from https://www.proquest.com/historical-newspapers/federal-diary/docview/151658976/se-2
That’s interesting. Did the late night shopping continue after the war? I remember some late night shopping – until 6! – in major towns, but not our high street. And there was early closing day – which varied between towns, Tuesday, Wed, or Thurs was a halfday, to allow the workers their time off in the week for working on Saturdays – till about 1 pm!
I don’t know what the shop hours were during wartime, though. For food, shops probably opened when they had something, then closed agai once they’d run out.
I grew up in a small town in Missouri and we had Thursday night shopping in the downtown when I was a child in the 1970s. Then Walmart came in and put all the downtown shops out of business, partly because they had evening hours all week.
We also had Thursday night shopping near my Endwell, N.Y., hometown — and I believe it was still around when I moved to NYC in the 1970s. Seems like it may have been a national phenomenon.
These evening hours sound like they made it easier for these working women to do all the things they had to do.
Ronel visiting for T:
My Languishing TBR: T