Businesses adjust to Columbus Day fade-out

Mark Garrison Oct 8, 2012

It’s likely you’re working today and perhaps didn’t even recall that it’s Columbus Day. Nearly half of states don’t recognize Columbus Day as a paid holiday. Getting Columbus Day as a paid holiday is a fading privilege that’s been eroding for a number of reasons. The holiday has long faced protests from Native American groups. Governments have sliced it out of paid holiday lists, citing straining budgets. And some workers prefer to have more time off around winter holidays, rather than a fall Monday.

Even some states that do recognize the holiday aren’t giving workers today off. In Tennessee this year, Columbus Day will be marked on the Friday after Thanksgiving. That means weekend guests at Blue Mountain Mist, a Smoky Mountains bed-and-breakfast, largely checked out yesterday.

Manager Jason Ball would rather have more guests staying through today, as the extra night of revenue makes a big difference. “When you get the longer stays, like the three nights, that’s pretty huge,” he explains. The inn can’t count on Columbus Day to provide the kind of business Labor Day and Memorial Day offer.

Retailers depend on Columbus Day too. The Tennessee chain Electronic Express is heavily promoting its Columbus Day sale. Leon Harris expects good business today for the branch he manages outside Nashville, but nothing like on a paid holiday. “When people are off work, then you’re gonna have more foot traffic, more people walking around,” he says. “Columbus Day, it’s a little different.”

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.