Thanksgiving Day: Retailers halt in-store shopping amid pandemicNovember 22, 2020
Walmart began Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving Day in 2012, spurring other retail giants to follow suit.
The move prompted calls for a walkout among some Walmart workers and spurred petitions on Change.org to “Stop Black Thursday” and “Move Black Friday Start Back to Friday” as the decision to open doors on Thanksgiving spread across the industry.
The coronavirus pandemic has retailers reversing course and closing their doors on Thanksgiving, providing even more of a boon to online shopping and raising the question: Is this the end of an era?
“It might be a little bit more poignant next year in terms of, ‘How did that work? Did customers really, you know, miss that?’ ” Retail Association of Nevada spokesman Bryan Wachter said.
Closed for the holiday
Walmart was the first major retailer to announce it would close for Thanksgiving this year, with John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart U.S., saying in a news release July 21: “We know this has been a trying year, and our associates have stepped up. We hope they will enjoy a special Thanksgiving Day at home with their loved ones.”
Target, Best Buy, Kohl’s and Macy’s made similar announcements shortly after.
The largest mall operator in the U.S., Simon Property Group, said in September that its locations will be closed on the holiday. Downtown Summerlin and Brookfield Properties, which operates Fashion Show mall, also said they will be closed.
Last year, Thanksgiving Day was the third-busiest day for in-store activity with 37.8 million shoppers, behind Black Friday, 84.2 million, and Small Business Saturday, 59.9 million, according to the National Retail Federation.
Steve Horwitz, an economics professor at Ball State University’s Miller College of Business, said for retailers, closing on Thanksgiving probably wasn’t a hard call to make.
“If people are getting together on Thanksgiving with friends, or even immediate family, that in this pandemic, shopping is not the first thing they’re thinking about,” he said.
Some shoppers, like Las Vegas resident Nola Woodfin, said Thanksgiving should be spent with loved ones.
“You should be spending time with your family and not be shopping on Thanksgiving,” she said. “There’s time for it on Friday.”
Others, like Las Vegas resident Bennie Hollis, normally shop on Thanksgiving.
“It’s perfect for sales,” he said.
Hollis said he is not affected much with in-store shopping limited on the holiday this year, saying, “That is why they have online shopping.”
Retailers with a strong e-commerce platform are well positioned to benefit from the Thanksgiving closures.
Americans are expected to spend $6 billion online on Thanksgiving Day, up 42.3 percent from last year, according to Adobe Analytics, which tracks thousands of websites.
“It makes sense to be closed on Thanksgiving and start working your e-commerce arm of your business as best as you can,” said Tom Arnold, a professor of finance at…