NEW YORK (NWN) – Target will no longer open its stores on Thanksgiving Day, making a permanent change to the unofficial start of the holiday season that has been suspended during the pandemic.
To limit crowds in stores, last year retailers were forced to turn what has become a weekend shopping blitz into an extended event, with holiday sales beginning in early October.
However, the forced change seems to have been embraced by shoppers who may find similar offers in wider times, relieving some of the stress that goes hand in hand with the holidays.
U.S. holiday sales in November and December rose 8.2% in 2020 compared to the previous year, according to The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group. The trade group estimates 2021 could break that record, rising between 8.5% and 10.5%.
Target CEO Brian Cornell wrote in a note to employees, “What started out as a temporary measure driven by the pandemic is now our new standard – one that allows our guests’ holiday wishes to be met within store hours and well. Recognizes our ability to deliver.”
The new standard at Target, on very healthy sales last year, could inspire other retailers to follow its path.
Target distribution and call centers will have some employees on Thanksgiving Day, Target said Monday, but stores will remain closed.
Target began opening its stores on Thanksgiving a decade ago, joining other retailers in launching Black Friday sales the day before and creating the holiday crowd after the turkey feast. Many did so to compete with Amazon.com and other growing online threats.
But it looked like this change would eliminate Black Friday sales only. And big retailers also suffered some setbacks, accusing them of forcing thousands to work on family leave.
Some stores and malls, such as the Mall of America in Minnesota, have abolished the practice and remain closed on Thanksgiving. Some people, like Costco and Nordstrom, never open their doors during the holiday, saying they want to honor the holiday.
Thanksgiving historically wasn’t a big sales day, not one of the top 10, as stores usually open their doors around 5 p.m. However, it’s been a big online sales day. Last year, according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index, the holiday was behind only Cyber Monday and Black Friday in online sales.