For millions of Americans, the holiday shopping season starts on Thanksgiving Day.
Not Black Friday. Not Cyber Monday. Thanksgiving Thursday.
For the past decade, Thanksgiving was the first day that retail giants like Target and Walmart unveiled the deals that had holiday shoppers forgoing their turkey dinners and camping outside locked doors on cold concrete walkways wrapped around big box stores.
Not in 2020. Not during the coronavirus pandemic.
Target and Walmart announced they’ll be closed Thanksgiving Thursday in 2020.
It will be a much-needed break for employees. It’s a much-needed break for shoppers. It might also be safer for everyone.
San Diego State marketing professor Miro Copic said the traditional holiday-shopping kickoff often attracts incredibly large and dense crowds that sometimes get violent, with customers battling over marked-down televisions and video-game consoles. It’s not a scene that public health officials want to see during a pandemic.
However, Copic said there will still be a holiday shopping season with plenty of holiday sales.
“Even though Walmart and Target are going to close on Thanksgiving, they’re going to be a big beneficiary this holiday season,” he said. “Just around Halloween, they’re going to start holiday sales, and they’re going to really stagger the sales all the way through the season. So, consumers will have bite-size chunks and events. So it’s not making sure that people will go in en masse, but in little pockets of people.”
Copic added that, despite the incredible popularity of online retailers like Amazon, the brick-and-mortar stalwarts will always have a place if they diversify their business to also allow for pick-up and online shopping.
“When people go in, it’s a social experience,” said Copic. “Online shopping is not a social experience.”