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Target to close on Thanksgiving, joining Walmart in ending Black Friday kickoff

In this May 30, 2020 photo, people in protective masks line up to enter a Target, in Boston, amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In this May 30, 2020 photo, people in protective masks line up to enter a Target, in Boston, amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Michael Dwyer/AP)

NEW YORK — Target is joining Walmart in closing its stores on Thanksgiving Day, ending a decade-long tradition of jump starting Black Friday door buster sales.

The move, announced Monday, come as stores are rethinking the Black Friday in-store bargain shopping as they try to curb the spread of the coronavirus, which has seen a resurgence in a slew of states. Walmart, the nation's largest retailer, announced the move on Tuesday, and at the time, analysts expected more would follow.

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“Historically, deal hunting and holiday shopping can mean crowded events, and this isn’t a year for crowds,” said Target in a statement.

Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette said earlier this month that the department store will be pivoting its Black Friday business more toward online and will likely be going “full force” with holiday marketing right after Halloween. It also will be staggering events to reduce customer traffic in the store.

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Target opened for the first time on Thanksgiving in 2011, joining other stores in jump-starting Black Friday sales and creating a new tradition of shoppers heading out to the stores after gobbling down their turkey and pumpkin pie. It came as physical stores were looking to be more competitive as shoppers were shifting more online.

Still, while some shoppers enjoy shopping on Thanksgiving, the events have drawn criticism particularly from labor-backed groups who have lambasted stores for taking advantage of workers. Thanksgiving sales, which are not even on the top 10 busiest days of a retailers’ calendar, have also eaten into Black Friday sales, though Black Friday is still the year’s biggest or second-biggest shopping day.

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