Walmart isn’t planning to keep its doors open this Thanksgiving.
The world’s largest retailer announced plans to close all its U.S. stores during the holiday for the second year in a row. Walmart made the decision as a “thank you” to its employees for their hard work during the pandemic, the company announced.
Last year was the first time Walmart closed on Thanksgiving in 30 years. Earlier this year, Target also announced it would be closed on Thanksgiving.
“Throughout the pandemic, our associates have been nothing short of heroic in how they have stepped up to serve our customers and their communities. Sam Walton said, ‘Our people make the difference,’ and that’s never been more true than it is right now,” said Dacona Smith, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Walmart U.S. “Closing our stores on Thanksgiving Day is one way we’re saying ‘thank you’ to our teams for their dedication and hard work this year. We hope everyone will take the opportunity to be with their loved ones during what’s always a special time.”
After years of heightened competition to keep open doors earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, many of the biggest retailers have been reversing course and reducing holiday hours over the last few years. Remaining open on Thanksgiving has been contentious between labor advocates and retailers for years, but online shopping and the pandemic may give cause to let employees remain at home more during the holiday season.
Walmart is opening its Black Friday sale online on Thanksgiving at 7 p.m. EST, while some other top retailers are opening online sales at midnight. The moves indicate retailers want to give employees time back, particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic, but can still capture shoppers earlier through e-commerce.
Walmart noted it will announce its Black Friday hours at a later date. The retailer made the announcement about Thanksgiving to roughly 1,000 associates during its Associates Celebration meeting. The company also recently extended its emergency leave policy, which was implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, and expanded access to its no-cost counseling program.