The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the status quo for brick-and-mortar retail and online retail. Just how “forever” those changes are will depend on how long the pandemic lasts and how long it is before vaccines and actual cures are able to come to the market. One fresh issue that will show that 2020 is truly a different year for retailers is that major stores already have started announcing that they will not be open on Thanksgiving day.
Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) announced in the last week that its stores would be closed on Thanksgiving day. What is amazing about that is it appears to be the first Thanksgiving closure in about 30 years. The closures will be at the flagship Walmart stores and at Sam’s club stores. Walmart’s message was that its workers already have stepped up enough and that this will be a break for its staff.
While Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) is open for online shopping every second of the year, it recently delayed its Prime Day as well. The impact of COVID-19 was cited.
Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) announced on Monday that it would start rolling out its holiday savings starting in October to help spread out the time that would have otherwise put more shoppers in stores during a short period, but the retail giant confirmed that it was also closing its stores on Thanksgiving Day. Target also noted that it was making 20,000 more products available via pickup and delivery services at 1,500 Target stores across the country by this fall.
Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. (NYSE: DKS) also joined in on announcing store closures for Thanksgiving. This includes store closures for its Golf Galaxy and its Field & Stream locations.
While these are the store closures that have been announced so far, it should be obvious that more closures will be seen for Thanksgiving day. Recent years were starting to make it look as though they were not willing to miss even a single beat, and that included Thanksgiving.
Retailers obviously are aware of their employees having worked in harder and more stressful times, and the mandatory mask wearing has been an ongoing reminder of that. What remains to be seen is just how much effort there will be for the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday usually brings massive crowds to stores, and that will make it much harder for stores to enforce the social distancing that is becoming the norm.
24/7 Wall St. has tracked how many store openings there have been for Thanksgiving, and this is just how detailed and targeted the stores were in 2019.
One additional issue that has not been brought up is that many retailers increasingly are getting their orders online, now that millions of shoppers remain scared about venturing back into stores. That will be magnified even further in 2021, and companies have been beefing up their online sales efforts along with efforts for contactless pickup and deliveries.