Why Target, Dick’s and Walmart are closing on Thanksgiving
More retailers are disinviting themselves from the Thanksgiving table—not unlike an annoying relative who finally realizes no one wanted to see them in the first place. The latest is Target, which on Monday announced plans to close stores on the autumnal holiday, taking place on Nov. 26 this year.
“So kick back, relax and enjoy a long nap after you finish that last piece of Thanksgiving turkey. This season, you can count on getting extra-big savings without the extra-long lines, with plenty of opportunities to score the best deals on the hottest items both before and after November 26,” the Minneapolis-based chain said in a statement.
Target joins fellow big-box retailer Walmart, which announced its own Thanksgiving Day closures last week. Dick’s Sporting Goods, which recently also unveiled its back-to-school marketing, announced on Monday that it too will be closing stores, including its Golf Galaxy and Field & Stream locations, on Nov. 26. A spokeswoman from Kohl’s says the chain has nothing to announce as of Monday.
The long lines and throngs of people typically associated with Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping would likely be disastrous during the age of COVID-19. The ongoing pandemic has forced many retailers to revise operations to be more socially distant. Many retailers have said they are closing so employees, essential workers that have been working throughout the coronavirus, can enjoy time at home with their families.
“No retailer wants large crowds amassing outside stores and rushing inside the store—in some ways, it’s a health and safety precaution,” says Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData Retail. “It’s the perfect excuse with the pandemic to say we’re not going to open on Thanksgiving.”
In previous years, many stores, including Dick’s, had very limited Thanksgiving hours. Target had typically opened in the evening, with the idea that shoppers could enjoy family time and food and then still have time to get the earliest doorbusters in stores. The practice of opening on the holiday dates back nearly a decade to 2011, when stores such as Gap, Kmart, Target and Toys ‘R’ Us began to open their doors on Thanksgiving. Walmart had opened on the holiday as far back as the 1980s.
Yet in more recent years, the relevance of tentpole shopping holidays like Black Friday, and, in turn, Thanksgiving, has shifted. Some retailers such as REI have closed on Black Friday as a statement, instead encouraging consumers to spend more time outdoors. Last year, “Black Friday” deals occurred as early as mid-November, 11 days before the day after Thanksgiving.
"For a lot of retailers, it's just becoming a bit of a free-for-all, the whole Thanksgiving, Black Friday season,” says Saunders. “There’s a view that opening all of the hours doesn’t drive that much in incremental sales—it isn’t that profitable.”