Walmart has a history of letting Black Friday creep further and further back over Thanksgiving Day to get a leg up on their competition. Last year in 2019, the company threw open store doors to sale-seeking customers at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. The doorbuster sale was an all-hands event, meaning that with very few exceptions, all Walmart staff, most of whom make less than $12 an hour, had to rush through their Thanksgiving dinner, say goodbye to gathered family, and be at work at 5 p.m. on the holiday.
The practice has faced a lot of public criticism over the years, especially after associate Jdimytai Damour was trampled to death in a doorbuster event at a New York Walmart in 2008. But the event has been so profitable that it seemed the company would continue to overlook all negative pressure.
During the first months of the COVID-19, People Lead (shift supervisor) Kevin Carlyle in a Texas Walmart wrote to the corporate office with a thought-out suggestion that this year, perhaps, it would be prudent to leave Thanksgiving alone. And the higher-ups listened.
“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,” said John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart, in a June 21, 2020, news release. “We are certainly thankful to our people for all of their efforts.”
Furner announced that all Walmart and Sam’s Club stores would be closed for the November 26 holiday. He also announced that another round of small bonuses would be paid out to full-time and part-time employees before the end of the summer. This is the third round of bonuses, mostly between $150 and $300, that Walmart has paid out to help employees through this crisis.
Walmart has not yet announced at what time on Black Friday it now intends to open, but its statements have implied that the major sales event will still take place despite the dangers that Black Friday-type crowding will still pose in November.
Photo: Black Friday shoppers at a Walmart in Germantown, Maryland. Credit: K2 images / Shutterstock.com