Walmart says it will close its U.S. stores on Thanksgiving for the second consecutive year.
The nation's largest retailer and biggest private employer said Friday that it wants to give workers time off for all their "hard work and dedication" to the company. It follows the decision by Target Corp., which announced back in January it would be closing its stores again on the annual late-November turkey feast.
"Closing our stores on Thanksgiving Day is one way we're saying 'thank you' to our team," wrote Dacona Smith, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Walmart U.S., in a corporate blog.
The move shows how the pandemic will have lasting effects on the retail industry's strategies, even as the health virus ebbs. For almost a decade, Black Friday store shopping had been kicked off with big crowds on the Thursday of Thanksgiving and expanded into Friday. However, last year, given safety concerns, most stores were closed on Thanksgiving.
Walmart, like other stores, successfully pushed more sales online to reduce crowds in its stores. But, even as safety protocols relax, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer apparently believes that not having the Black Friday kickoff on Thanksgiving won't hurt its business.
Given the clout of Walmart and Target, other major retailers will likely follow their lead again this year.
One of those retailers is Best Buy, another store that's moving many of its Black Friday deals online and offering alternatives to in-store shopping.
The decision marks the second straight year that Best Buy stores will be dark on the holiday. Last year, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the store encouraged customers instead to take advantage of online deals, and opened for in-person shopping starting on Black Friday.
Thanksgiving Day hours have long been a source of tension between retailers and critics who argue that employees should have the day off to be with their families. As a result, some states, including Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine, have prohibited big-box retailers from opening that day.
And although retailers saw a significant decline in in-store shopping traffic last year due to the closures, online shopping skyrocketed on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
This Thanksgiving, Best Buy is confident it can keep customers satisfied during the holiday season with plenty of alternatives to in-person shopping. Over the 2020 holiday season, the company relied on online deals, curbside pickup, and faster shipping options to serve customers.
"Last year, thanks to the extraordinary work of our employees, we helped millions of customers with their holiday shopping during Black Friday weekend," the company wrote in a statement. "This year, we'll have even more ways for customers to easily and conveniently get their holiday shopping done, over the Black Friday weekend and throughout the entire holiday season."
Best Buy has not yet announced its store hours for Black Friday or the rest of the holiday weekend.
Kohl's has also announced that all of its stores will be closed on Thanksgiving Day.
A news release from the company says the decision comes "after positive response from last year's closure on Thanksgiving Day, as well as evolving preferences in how and when customers want to shop during the holiday season."
"Kohl’s served millions of customers both in store and online throughout Black Friday week last year, and we look forward to delivering that same incredible experience to our customers again this year," the company's release said.
CNN contributed to this report.