Walmart said on Tuesday that it plans to close stores on Thanksgiving. The move ends the retailer's tradition of starting its in-store Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving Day. The closure will also extend to the Walmart-owned warehouse retailer Sam's Club.
"We know this has been a trying year, and our associates have stepped up," said John Furner, the president and CEO of Walmart US, in a release. "We hope they will enjoy a special Thanksgiving Day at home with their loved ones."
In addition to the time off, the company said it will also give bonuses of between $150 and $300 to employees in August. Walmart said that this is the third round of bonuses for its employees since the start of the coronavirus pandemic totaling $1.1 billion.
On Monday, Walmart began requiring customers to wear a face covering while shopping. The retail giants said it will post signs and station designated "health ambassador" employees outside store entrances to remind shoppers to wear a mask.
Walmart and Sam's Club store will operate with normal hours on Wednesday, Nov. 25, the company said. More information about the store hours for Friday, Nov. 27 will be announced later.
While closing stores is a break in tradition, the company could still offer early Black Friday deals on its website. Online holiday sales continue to hit record highs as consumers shift their spending to phones and laptops and away from brick-and-mortar stores. In 2019, Black Friday turned out to be the second-largest online sales day, reaching $7.4 billion. Cyber Monday hit $9.4 billion.
Walmart said that its e-commerce sales in the US grew 74% in May due to increased online grocery sales amid the pandemic. That marks the largest percentage jump for Walmart's online sales over the past three years. As of March, Walmart had overtaken eBay as the second largest online seller.
But the retail giant has a long way to go if it wants to catch up to Amazon in the No. 1 slot. Amazon gobbled up 39% of US online sales in March, while Walmart's take was just 5%, according to eMarketer. Walmart will reportedly launch its own subscription service to compete with Amazon Prime in July. The retail giant's service is rumored to cost $98 a year and include perks like same-day , discount at Walmart gas stations and early access to some deals.