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Walmart stores will close on Thanksgiving, so no early Black Friday

Walmart announces new bonuses for employees with news they will not be open this year on Thanksgiving.

Black Friday at Walmart won’t begin Thanksgiving Day this year — at least not in stores.

The mega-chain announced Tuesday it will be closed Thanksgiving Day. That’s a big shift from what Walmart shoppers are used to.

The chain’s locations are usually open for regular shopping all day Thanksgiving, with the Black Friday sales starting at 6 p.m. and extending into the early hours Friday morning and into the rest of the holiday weekend.

“We know this has been a trying year, and our associates have stepped up,” John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart, said in a statement. “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.”

Related: With Black Friday deals online, why do Tampa Bay shoppers head out on Thanksgiving?

It’s unclear when the stores will open after the holiday. Retailers have been experimenting with Black Friday hours for years, at one point opening at midnight to crowds that started getting in line Thursday morning.

But with the growth of Amazon and online shopping, retailers have been extending sales throughout the entire month of November. Several of the sales are also available online, leaving smaller crowds in 2019 waiting to get inside than in years past.

The two months before Christmas typically make up 20 percent of retailers sales per year, not just the Black Friday rush.

Walmart’s move as an industry leader will likely signal other retailers to make holiday changes.

While Target and Walmart stayed open during the pandemic and have had record sales this year, unessential retailers — traditional department stores like Macy’s and JC Penney’s — had to close to help lessen the spread of the virus and have lost millions in revenue. They’re likely relying on big holiday sales to improve struggling balance sheets.

Walmart also announced Tuesday that it will give out another round of $150 and $300 bonuses to its workers. It’s their third round of bonuses since the start of the pandemic.

“Our associates have been working at an incredible pace, they’ve solved problems, and they’ve set an amazing example for others,” Furner said.

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