Target, Walmart, Best Buy, JCPenney, Home Depot and other big retailers have announced they will be closed Thanksgiving Day — with Target taking the extra step to say it will now always be closed on Thanksgiving Day — in a move many families can be thankful for this year.
Retailers for years pushed Black Friday opening times earlier and earlier, eventually reaching midnight. Recall scenes of shoppers, some camped out in front of retailers’ doors, just waiting for the Black Friday doorbuster sales to start. Then, in 2009, Kmart announced it would open at 7 p.m. on Thanksgiving. The retailer said the move would let shoppers avoid the Black Friday rush and get home in time for dinner. Two years later, other retailers followed suit with Thanksgiving Day hours.
At no point did opening on Thanksgiving help shoppers avoid a rush. The rush moved up with the shopping hours as customers sought to get their hands on the best deals before supplies ran out. Rather than getting home in time for supper, many worn-out shoppers returned home for naps before heading back out for other Black Friday deals.
Thanksgiving Day sales weren’t a commercial success, prompting some retailers to close for the holiday again. Consumers saw the pain it caused retail workers forced to spend the holiday away from their loved ones.
The final nail in the coffin for Thanksgiving Day sales was Covid-19 during the 2020 holiday season. As most retailers closed for the holiday to avoid large crowds, they pushed their digital stores to the forefront of consumer attention — and that was a hit. Adobe Analytics data show online shopping on Thanksgiving 2020 set a record with $5.1 billion spent.
Although it could be argued that online sales starting on Thanksgiving Day continues to overcommercialize the holiday, at least the shopping can be done from the comfort of home while surrounded by family without taking retail workers away from theirs. It’s the break we all deserve.