Target is closing stores on Thanksgiving Day for the 1st time since 2011

The retailer will start offering holiday deals in October.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Chrissy Callahan

For many Americans, Thanksgiving Day festivities include a trip to a big-box retailer to start scooping up early Black Friday deals. This year is going to be different.

On Monday, Target announced that it will be closing all U.S. stores on Nov. 26 as part of its ongoing efforts to create a safe shopping experience during the coronavirus pandemic.

Target has implemented several policies to promote social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic. Getty Images stock

Instead of offering one big day of deals on Black Friday, the retailer plans on kicking off its holiday sales online and in stores this October and then staggering them throughout the season.

"Historically, deal hunting and holiday shopping can mean crowded events, and this isn’t a year for crowds. That’s why our biggest holiday deals will be available earlier than ever, so you can shop safely and conveniently without worrying about missing out on deals that usually come later in the season," the retailer wrote on its blog, A Bullseye View, on Monday.

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This year marks the first time that Target has shut down stores on Thanksgiving since 2011. Like many other retailers, the store has opened for early Black Friday deals on the holiday for several years, often opening stores at 5 p.m. local time in many states. Target has yet to announce its operating hours for Black Friday this year.

In recent months, Target has implemented several COVID-19-related safety measures, including mandatory mask wearing, and the retailer hopes its new approach to holiday shopping will keep both shoppers and staff healthy.

“The investments we’ve made in our business and our incredible team have enabled us to move with flexibility and speed to meet guests’ changing needs during this global pandemic,” Target CEO Brian Cornell said in a statement. “This year more than ever, a joyful holiday will be inseparable from a safe one, and we’re continuing to adjust our plans to deliver ease, value and the joy of the season in a way that only Target can.”

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As part of its holiday strategy, Target is also making 20,000 more products available via its pickup and delivery services. By fall, customers in most states will also be able to purchase fresh and frozen grocery items through the retailer's Order Pickup and Drive Up services at 1,500 stores.

Target is the latest retailer to announce plans for shutting down on Thanksgiving. Last week, Walmart revealed that it will be closing its nearly 5,000 U.S. locations on the holiday for the first time since the 1980s. Walmart-owned Sam's Clubs have been closed on Thanksgiving Day since they originally opened and will continue the tradition this year.

"We know this has been a trying year, and our associates have stepped up. We hope they will enjoy a special Thanksgiving Day at home with their loved ones,” Walmart U.S. president and CEO John Furner said in a statement. “We are certainly thankful to our people for all of their efforts.”

Both Walmart and Sam's Clubs will operate under normal store hours on Nov. 25 but, like Target, Walmart has yet to announce its Black Friday in-store plans.