Walmart also was named in several petitions, though most of its stores are open 24 hours and 365 days a year, including Thanksgiving. Last year, customer traffic was highest during the 10 p.m. hour on Thanksgiving, a spokesman said
"We appreciate our associates for everything they do to serve our customers during this busy shopping season and every day throughout the year," spokesman Steve Restivo said in an email. "According to the National Retail Federation, Thanksgiving night shopping has surged over the past three years. Most of our stores are open 24 hours and, historically, much of our Black Friday preparations have been done on Thanksgiving, which is not unusual in the retail industry."
Ultimately, the power is in the hands of consumers to drive down the demand for extended shopping hours, retail and employment experts agreed.
Labor Day and Memorial Day used to be days of rest, too, said Rich Milgram, CEO of career network Beyond.com, which connects employers and job seekers. But now, sales on those days are the norm, showing that over time, society grows accustomed to changes and demands of the free market.
"This says less about the retailer and more about society as a whole. Target, Sears, Kmart and others are all doing what they need to do maximize sales and profits," he said.
Just as consumers are driving the demand, employees are choosing to work in the field, leaving companies with little choice but to take advantage of every opportunity in the marketplace, said Bill Peppler with staffing firm Kavaliro.
"In today's economy where jobs are scarce and unemployment is high, people are willing to do more now than they were willing to do two to three years ago. This is especially true in retail. Black Friday alone last year led to almost $12 billion in sales, so you can understand the employers stance on this issue," he said.
Does this mean that Christmas and New Years shopping is next?
Probably not, said Brooks Holtom, associate professor of management at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business.
"I would suggest they are much less at risk because most of the shopping we see at Thanksgiving is in anticipation of Christmas. The incentive for retailers to open on Christmas and New Year's is much lower."
St. Clair knows it's too late to realistically expect Target to change its tune this year. But she is hopeful that her petition and others like it will make Target's leadership reconsider opening early for Thanksgiving next year.
"Going forward I hope it forces Target and other companies to take another look when they realize how many people out there care about this issue," she said.
Until then, St. Clair plans to be in the electronics section Thanksgiving night through the morning hours of Black Friday.
"I do value my job and that's my schedule," she said. "I will definitely honor that, as much as I don't agree with it."