djr-2017-11-24-news-blackfriday- shoppingp1

Shoppers line up around the building at Best Buy in Tupelo hoping to have first chance at the early Black Friday deals on Thursday afternoon.

It really comes as no big surprise, considering the way 2020 has gone, that Thanksgiving will be very different from years past, at least when it comes to retailing.

For the past several years, its been a right of passage to go get in a line sometime after eating the turkey (or maybe saving it until later) to snap up a bargain or three at your favorite store.

It might have been that bargain-baseman 70-inch Smart TV, or that $99 sofa.

Whatever it was, Black Friday had become less of a thing since Gray Thursday was creeping into the sales.

Stores were opening at 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, sometimes staying open for the next 72 hours to grab every penny they could.

But not in 2020.

Yes, retailers want to grab as much as they can, but they’ll not start on Thanksgiving. At least most of the ones who used to open on Turkey Day.

Walmart and Sam’s were the first to announce that they would be closed on Thanksgiving. Then it was Target and Kohl’s and Best Buy.

Here’s what each had to say about their decision to not open:

• Walmart & Sam’s – “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. We are certainly thankful to our people for all of their efforts ... We know holiday shopping will be different this year, and we will be managing sales events differently.”

• Kohl’s – “Given the importance of safety and convenience, we expect more customers to shop earlier, search for great deals throughout the season, and take advantage of our online and omnichannel conveniences,” the retailer said.

• Target – “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.”

As of this writing, one of the biggest fans of Thanksgiving sales is J.C. Penney, but it has yet to announce its plans. And pity poor Penney’s – the struggling retailer needs all the sales it can get, but will it buck the trend and stay open on Thanksgiving, or will peer pressure force it to close as well?

The pandemic has altered the retail landscape (in fact, it’s disrupted the entire economy), and the excitement that usually builds for the holiday season hasn’t gotten out of the gate yet. There’s still too much uncertainty, as flareups of the coronavirus pop up, causing some states to pause their reopening plans.

That doesn’t help business of course, as they have to try to navigate through the disruptions.

Consumers went online during the height of the crisis, with Amazon reaping the benefits. But as the online giant made billions, the mom-and-pop and independent shops struggled to survive – and still are struggling.

Maybe you’re favorite store won’t be open on Thanksgiving. That just means you can shop early and often instead. And maybe give the local entrepreneurs a chance. They’re as essential as any big box store, and they need us now more than ever.

dennis.seid@journalinc.com

Twitter: @dennisseid

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