Target has announced that in 2021 it will again remain closed on Thanksgiving Day.
It’s easy to see why the retailer is confident enough to announce plans for an important vacation so far in advance – it no longer needs to be open on Turkey Day.
Target said Wednesday than comparable sales, a measure that combines online sales and business in stores that have been in operation for at least a full year, rose 17.2%, continuing its streak of sales increases since the outbreak of the pandemic. And this despite the closure on Thanksgiving Day, a day that in the 2010s had become the kick-off for the Black Friday shopping craze as store openings began earlier and earlier. (Walmart sets the tone in July 2020 by being the first major chain to say it would skip Thanksgiving store hours, which would allow Target and others to do the same. This year, Target is the first major player to make such an announcement.)
Like other retailers, Target began handing out Christmas season deals in early October to compete with Amazon’s Prime Day, but also to spread them out over a longer period. This was in part a concession to self-imposed limits on store traffic due to COVID-19. But more importantly, enough of its business has been brought online that the costs of staffing stores on a major holiday make less sense. And before COVID, there were already signs that Target and other retailers no longer wanted to put so many of their Christmas eggs in one basket – on Black Friday weekend -.
“Retailers were able to thrive if they did their best and motivated consumers to buy throughout the season,” wrote Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData in a research note. “This means it’s even less likely that retailers will return to the big Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales bonanza, even when the pandemic is over.” And like Fortune reported in November, Black Friday was a muted affair across the industry this year, even for a successful chain like Target.
Retailers with strong e-commerce like Target and Walmart are sure to have benefited from the digital boom accelerated by COVID-19 this year, thanks to curbside collection infrastructure and better shopping apps. : Adobe Analytics said on Tuesday that online retail spending in the United States increased 32.2% in November and December to $ 188.2 billion, including a big jump for Thanksgiving. (At Target, they’ve doubled. Walmart will release full fourth-quarter results next month.)
But that’s not to say that retailers still don’t need stores this holiday season: sales of orders placed online but picked up in person from a store by the customer, whether curbside or on the road. store, as well as same-day delivery nearly tripled at Target, showing just how crucial its physical stores remain.
It just means Target and the other retail winners don’t need that extra few hours over Thanksgiving to make the holiday season a success. And by extension, that means they’ll rely even less on Black Friday weekend as a whole in the future.
More to read absolutely retail cover of Fortune:
- 14 on the biggest bankruptcies of 2020—And who could be next in 2021?
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- A record 12,200 U.S. stores closed in 2020 as e-commerce, the pandemic forever changed commerce