Will closing stores on Thanksgiving become the new retail tradition?
Walmart has joined Target in announcing plans to close its doors on Thanksgiving for the second straight year, describing the day off as a way to show appreciation to associates for their efforts during the pandemic.
“Sam Walton said, ‘Our people make the difference,’ and that’s never been more true than it is right now,” said Dacona Smith, EVP and COO for Walmart U.S., in a statement.
Target in mid-January said it would again close on Thanksgiving after reporting a strong November/December holiday period. Management said the stores were closed “in order to minimize crowds and help our guests take the stress out of getting the best deals of the season. The response was so positive that we’ll carry it forward this year.”
The moves come despite the easing of in-store restrictions as vaccination rates climb and COVID-19 cases drop.
A number of other retailers that typically remain open on Thanksgiving, including Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Kohl’s and J.C. Penney, closed last year on Turkey Day amid calls for social distancing and worker appreciation measures. Many stores wound up opening Black Friday between 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. Among those remaining open on Thanksgiving were Macy’s, which opened at 5:00 p.m. on the holiday, and Old Navy, at 3:00 p.m.
Last year’s holiday season was abnormally extended with some deals kicking off in mid-October to coincide with a delayed Amazon Prime Day. Many retailers also focused on online promotions to reduce in-store crowds.
Despite criticism over associates having to work the holiday, stores first began opening on Thanksgiving in 2011 to kick off Black Friday Weekend, with many starting at 5:00 or 6:00 p.m.
A Morning Consult survey from 2019 found younger consumers had grown accustomed to shopping on the holiday, with 40 percent of Gen-Z respondents supporting opening versus 31 percent opposed. Overall, however, 55 percent voiced opposition versus 29 percent expressing support.
Significant shopping still gets done online. Adobe reported Thanksgiving Day spending hit another record of $5.1 billion in 2020, up nearly 22 percent year over year.
- Walmart to Close All U.S. Store Locations for Thanksgiving Day – Walmart
- Safe, Easy and Full of Joy: Inside Target’s Strong Holiday Season – Target
- Walmart joins Target in saying stores will be closed on Thanksgiving Day – CNBC
- Kohl’s, JCPenney join Thanksgiving Day openings – CNBC
- Most Americans want stores to stay closed on Thanksgiving, except for Gen Z – Business Insider
- A record-breaking Cyber Week 2020: Online shopping steals the show – Adobe
- It is a different year. Walmart is closing on Thanksgiving – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see retailers reversing the common practice of opening stores on Thanksgiving in the coming years? Do you also expect retailers to push up Christmas promotions to try and spread out holiday shopping in stores?