Walmart was the first to announce it would not have its physical stores open for Thanksgiving 2020, and other retailers including Target, Home Depot, Best Buy, Kohl's, Ulta and Dick’s Sporting Goods have followed suit. Ecommerce will likely be the beneficiary of these decisions.

Walmart Inc., Target Corp., Dick’s Sporting Goods, Kohl’s, Ulta, Value City Furniture,  The Home Depot Inc. and Best Buy Co Inc. have all recently announced they will close their stores on Thanksgiving Day 2020. This is a departure, as in recent years mass merchants have typically opened in the afternoon or evening on Thanksgiving to give shoppers a head start on Black Friday deals.

Ecommerce will likely be the beneficiary of these closed stores, as shoppers will head online to shop for deals.

Marketing company Fluent projects a 73% increase in consumers shopping online exclusively compared with a typical Thanksgiving Day, says president and co-founder Matt Conlin. Fluent bases this estimate on survey data from 6,812 consumers about their typical Thanksgiving Day shopping behavior.


Walmart will keep its fulfillment centers that handle online orders open on Thanksgiving. Target and Best Buy have not said whether their warehouses will be open and staffed with employees. Dick’s Sporting Goods announced that its distribution centers will be closed on Thanksgiving. None of these retailers has yet announced store hours for the day before Thanksgiving or for the day after on Black Friday.

Even though they are closing their stores for one day, Walmart, Target and Best Buy are touting that they will be offering deals throughout the holiday season and earlier than usual.

“This season, you can count on getting extra-big savings without the extra-long lines, with plenty of opportunities to score the best deals on the hottest items both before and after November 26,” Target wrote in its corporate blog A Bullseve View.


Similarly, Home Depot also announced its Black Friday prices will be available throughout the entire holiday season, preventing the need to swarm on the actual day after Thanksgiving. The sales will be available both in-store and online.

Retailers are smart to emphasize that promotions are available both online and in store and for a long period of time, as this will prevent crowds in stores, says Mousumi Behari, digital strategy practice lead at digital marketing firm Avionos. The Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping days are often associated with long lines and large groups of people in one place—scenarios consumers are especially avoiding now during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The last thing responsible retailers want are crowds gathering in their stores for Black Friday sales amidst the COVID-19 pandemic,” Behari says. “Now is the time to utilize a planned schedule for online promotions, pushing convenient fulfillment options such as buy online pick up in store. This will help take the focus away from one massive sales day while spreading out spending for customers, many of whom are operating on a tighter budget this year.”

Deals will appeal to the 71% of U.S. consumers who say they have reduced their spending in anticipation of a recession or pay loss, and the 43% of U.S. consumers who plan to restrict themselves to purchasing only essential items this year, according to a July survey of 30,315 U.S. adults from market research firm Piplsay. Plus, only 28% of U.S. consumers are confident their holiday shopping will remain unaffected this year, according to that survey.


The following retailers announced they will be closed on Thanksgiving:

  • Walmart
  • Target
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods
  • Best Buy
  • Kohl’s
  • Ulta
  • Home Depot
  • Value City Furniture

Even with open stores in years past, shoppers have still flocked online to shop on Thanksgiving. In fact, during the 2019 Cyber 5 stretch of Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, Thanksgiving Day generated the highest total page views and number of visits for, according to web measurement firm SimilarWeb Ltd.

Coronavirus likely a factor

Retailers are likely factoring the coronavirus pandemic into their decision to close stores on Thanksgiving, including regulations that vary by state and locality on how many shoppers a retailer can allow in a store.


“I would guess that COVID-19 was instrumental in this decision as retailers are challenged to know how many guests will be able to be in any given store in any given state,” says Lauren Freedman, senior consumer insights analyst at Digital Commerce 360. “This is a moving target and may simplify the retailer’s shopping strategy, allowing them to focus their efforts on ecommerce.”

Thanksgiving and Black Friday are among the largest online spending days in the U.S. Adobe Analytics estimates that U.S. consumers spent $4.21 billion online during Thanksgiving 2019, and $7.43 billion online on Black Friday 2019. Adobe’s numbers are based on data from more than 1 trillion visits to more than 4,500 retail sites.

Walmart Inc. is No. 3 in the 2020 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000, Home Depot No. 5, Best Buy No. 10, Target is No. 12, Kohl’s No. 21, Ulta No. 69 and Dick’s No. 44.