Walmarts are among the major stores that will be closed this Thanksgiving.

Walmarts are among the major stores that will be closed this Thanksgiving. Credit: TNS/Justin Sullivan

After about a decade of most major retailers opening on Thanksgiving to kick off the holiday shopping season, the COVID-19 pandemic that began in 2020 led most chains to begin closing on the holiday.

The pandemic was officially declared to have ended last May. But most major retailers, including Walmart, Target and Kohl’s, aren't resuming Thanksgiving openings. 

Furthermore, the six major shopping malls on Long Island, including Roosevelt Field in Garden City, Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream and Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, also will be closed until Black Friday.

There are multiple reasons for the change of heart over Thanksgiving Day sales, a practice that was controversial when it began around 2012, retail experts said.


  • Most big-name retailers are remaining closed on Thanksgiving.
  • Those stores are sticking with a practice that began during the pandemic.
  • Consumers and employees alike favored the holiday closings.

Staffing issues in stores is a factor, some retail experts said.

“Because employees don’t like working on Thanksgiving and they have a fair amount of market power right now with the labor shortages and such, stores have kept up the staying closed on Thanksgiving,” said Scott Hoyt, senior director of consumer economics at Moody’s Analytics, headquartered in Manhattan.

Another factor is that retailers have been spreading out shopping deals over more days in the holiday season, even as early as October, and a growing share of holiday buying takes place online. The changes have reduced the significance of the five-day period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday that has been seen as the unofficial kickoff of holiday shopping and a bellwether for how retail will perform in the season.

Target’s early Black Friday deals started on Sunday and Best Buy’s started Monday, while The Home Depot's month of Black Friday deals started Wednesday. 

Foot traffic at U.S. malls was down 14.7% in November 2022, compared with November 2019, according to, a Los Altos, California-based firm that analyzes location data from mobile devices.

During that period, each of the six major malls on Long Island had a decline in foot traffic, including Roosevelt Field, down 8.1%; Green Acres Mall, 14.4%; and Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington, 21.1%, according to

The Thanksgiving change won't affect the bottom lines of retailers that would have been profitable anyway because customers who want to shop on Thanksgiving will just shift their shopping online, or wait to visit brick-and-mortar stores when they reopen, said Peter Madden, a director in the retail practice at AlixPartners, a Manhattan-based consulting firm.

Online sales in November and December 2022 accounted for 16.7% of overall sales during the two months, an increase from 12.4% in the same period in 2019, according to the National Retail Federation, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group.

Customers’ response also was a factor in stores being closed again on Thanksgiving, retail experts said.

“In 2021, retailers took note of consumers' positive responses from the previous year and once again closed up shop on Thanksgiving. Some retailers like Target, took things a step further, announcing they will never again be open for in-store shopping on Thanksgiving," said Mackenzie Shand, a shopping expert at

"Meanwhile, in 2022, Walmart CEO John Furner said keeping stores open on Thanksgiving is ‘a thing of the past,’ ” she said.

As far as how much consumers will spend overall this holiday season, there will be a sales slowdown compared with recent years, according to several retail sales projections.

“Consumers appear unlikely to expect to spend less, but are also tied down by student loan repayments resuming, rising interest rates causing other debt payments to rise, and persistent concerns about inflation, which continue to make consumers highly price-aware,” according to Coresight Research, a Manhattan-based retail analyst provider.

Holiday spending is expected to grow between 3% and 4% to between $957.3 billion and $966.6 billion, according to the retail federation’s holiday spending forecast released Thursday, but the report did not adjust the numbers for inflation. That spending increase is consistent with the average annual holiday spending increase of 3.6% from 2010 to 2019, the federation said.

Coresight is forecasting nominal retail sales growth during the quarter, October to December, of between 3.0% and 3.5%, compared with the same period last year. But adjusted for inflation, the expected growth will be 1% to 1.5%, and most of that will be driven by online spending, according to Coresight.

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