"There's a lot of movement by the major retailers to get their customers to shop more online," said Roger Beahm, executive director of the Center for Retail Innovation at Wake Forest University. "Here's an opportunity to do that."
Walmart, Best Buy, Kohl's and Macy's, which had all been open previously on Thanksgiving Day, were closed on Thursday.
Beahm said 2020 changed the idea of shopping on Thanksgiving Day, a trend which began about six years ago, because many stores were closed due to the pandemic. Even if stores were open, some shoppers felt uneasy about going into crowded stores or about having to wear masks.
"The benefits of doing online shopping and shopping earlier started to outweigh those advantages of getting into the stores and finding the sales," he said.
Target said it plans to close on every Thanksgiving Day moving forward.
In addition, Beahm said closing on Thanksgiving Day is now considered a smart business move for companies that are desperate to hire and retain workers.
"A lot of employees want to be home with their families and loved ones on Thanksgiving," he said. "Meeting those employee needs is as important in the long run to the business as staying open on Thanksgiving is in the short run."
Eyewitness News spoke with shoppers who arrived at Walmart in Farmingdale on Thursday morning only to find it closed.
"I was surprised that it was closed," one shopper said. "I thought they would be open at least half a day today."
"You can't blame people for taking the holiday," Nawed Jawed said. "Everybody should spend time with their family."
Kayla Bethea said she was disappointed she couldn't buy a pair of socks she wanted, but she was happy for the workers.
"Good for them," she said. "Walmart's always open. I know if I was a Walmart employee, I'd want the day off."
Shopper Alexander Coleman said he didn't agree with the move because people may want to get an early jump on Black Friday deals.
"I really think that it is crazy to close at this time," he said.
Retailers, however, have less of an incentive to be open this year on Thanksgiving Day, as it seems a large amount of Americans have already done their holiday shopping.
According to online analytics company, Adobe, from November 1 through November 23, spending hit $72.2 billion online representing nearly 20 percent growth in sales over last year.
"The concern that consumers have around shortages and not being able to get their products in time for the season, that's really driving a lot of early spending," said Vivek Pandya, a lead insights analyst with Adobe.
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