Target is engaging Walmart in closing its stores on Thanksgiving Day, ending an age-old tradition of jump-starting Black Friday sales
NEW YORK – Target is engaging Walmart in closing its stores on Thanksgiving Day, ending an age-old tradition of jump-starting Black Friday Door Buster sales.
The move, announced Monday, comes as stores are rethinking this year’s Black Friday shopping bonanza weekend – along with other major retail days during the holiday season – as the country fights the coronovirus epidemic.
Stores always relied on large holiday crowds and worked with manufacturers a year in advance to acquire special items. Now, the virus has turned the holiday shopping model upside down. The shops have scrapped the orders and the crowd is an extrovert. Analysts said that with fears of a wave of virus cases in decline, the biggest nightmare would be what retailers had to do during the most critical time of the year.
“Historically, deal hunting and holiday shopping can mean crowdfunding events, and this is not a year for crowds,” Minneapolis-based Target said in a corporate blog. It said its holiday deals would be bigger than ever – starting in October.
The country’s largest retailer, Walmart, announced its move last week.
Target opened for the first time on Thanksgiving in 2011, creating a new tradition of shoppers heading into the shops after Black Friday began selling and following their turkey feast. Many retailers did this because they were trying to compete better with Amazon and other online players.
But the sale ended up eating on Black Friday, and many critics looted shops for not honoring the holidays and for allowing their workers to spend with the family. In response to the backlash and poor sales, some stores and malls, such as the Bloomington, Minnesota-based mall, were overturned and not opened on Thanksgiving in recent years. Costco and Nordstrom, among others, were always closed with thanks, noting that they would like to honor the holiday.
The big question is still how to handle Black Friday itself, which draws huge crowds – and sales. Despite competition from Thanksgiving shopping, Black Friday ranks as the year’s top or No. 2 sales day.
According to Adobe Analytics, Thanksgiving has not even been in the Top 10 for the past 10 years as sales start at 5 pm, but ranks third in online shopping after Cyber Monday and Black Friday, respectively, among the top 100 retailers. Tracks online sales for 80.
Walmart and Target declined to comment on their plans for Black Friday, but analysts say they believe retailers will do more of their business online and focus on limiting the number of shoppers in stores Will focus Like Target, other retailers will also launch holiday sales to spread the crowd.
Messi CEO Jeff Gennett said earlier this month that the department store would be moving its Black Friday business towards online at a greater pace and possibly going “full force” with Holiday Marketing right after Halloween. It will also be surprising events to reduce customer traffic to the store.
Nevertheless, moving online sales would be more expensive for retailers because of shipping expenses. And while many stores such as Messi will have a curbside pickup ramp for the first time this holiday season, this strategy will create logistical challenges to meet shoppers’ holiday demands.
Sucharita Kodali, an e-commerce analyst at Forrester Research Inc., said that the profit margin on retail sales is anywhere from 50% to 80% on online sales to retailers when they buy the same item in-store.
Joel Rampold, managing director at AlixPartners’ retail practice, said, “It’s going to be a very difficult holiday season for sales.”
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