The world’s largest retailer has announced that it will close all its stores for this year’s turkey day as a “thank you” to the partners. Walmart (WMT) announced the news to employees on Friday at a meeting of the company’s associated holiday.
This marks the second consecutive year that Walmart will close on Thanksgiving, a traditionally big shopping day as stores extend crowd-lowering deals on Black Friday, the busiest day of the year for big retailers. On the last Thanksgiving, when the crisis in Kovid began to peak, Walmart closed its stores on the holiday for the first time in 30 years.
The closing of Thanksgiving in the past has been a source of tension between retailers and labor advocates. Critics say workers should be at home with their families instead of working.
Although the pandemic is disappearing in many parts of the United States, Walmart is clearly not worried about losing customers on Thanksgiving, weighing the well-being of its employees over any potential sales loss.
“During the pandemic, our staff was nothing more heroic than how they stepped up to serve our customers and their communities,” said Dacona Smith, chief operating officer of Walmart US. “We hope that everyone will take the opportunity to be with their loved ones during what is always a special time.”
In addition to giving employees Thanksgiving, Walmart has provided bonuses, improved mental health benefits and an improved pandemic leave policy to retain existing staff and attract new team members through some of the busiest – but the most stressful – periods in the history of the company.
Walmart was a huge beneficiary during the pandemic, with growing sales, especially online. Increased purchases at walmart.com may be another factor in the company’s decision to close its physical stores on Thanksgiving this year.
The announcement may seem early, coming in late spring, but Target beat its bigger rival by six months. The retailer announced in January that it would close all stores for Thanksgiving 2021, acknowledging that its 2020 experiment worked for customers, associates and the company.
“The response has been so positive that we will continue this year by keeping our Target stores closed all day on Thanksgiving,” the company said. “This is just one example of how our evolving strategy meets the needs of our business and our guests.”
– Parija Kavilanz of CNN Business contributed to this report