In a statement to employees, President and CEO John Furner didn't mention specifics, but did note that 2020 has been a difficult year.
"We know it's been a trying year, and you've stepped up. We want you to enjoy the day at home with your loved ones," he said.
Indeed, it was an employee who came up with the idea. Noting that "our best ideas come from our associates," Furner gave credit to Kevin Carlyle, who works at a store in Round Rock, Texas, and the CEO decided to run with it.
Walmart stores and Sam's Club locations will operate with normal hours on Wednesday, Nov. 25, the day before the holiday. Store and club hours for Friday, Nov. 27 -- or, Black Friday, which is traditionally the start of the holiday shopping season -- will be shared at a later date.
This will be the first time that Walmart has closed its stores on Thanksgiving since the 1980s. Indeed, most of the company's U.S. locations are open 364 days per year, with most closing on Christmas. Walmart's partner retailer, Sam's Club, traditionally closes on Thanksgiving.
"We know holiday shopping will be different this year, and we will be managing sales events differently," Furner said.
Over the past few years, the concept of "Black Friday" has crept into Thanksgiving Day, creating something of a cultural controversy, as Americans debate the idea of making retail employees have to work on what would traditionally be a time spent with their families.
Indeed, as previously reported by The Inquisitr, some brands have pushed back against the concept, and have opted to risk their bottom lines in order to stay closed on the traditional shopping holiday, as well as on Thanksgiving.
Meanwhile, Walmart has also announced that the company will be handing out a round of bonuses to associates worth approximately $428 million. This would be the third time since the COVID-19 pandemic began that the retailer has handed out bonuses, which so far have totaled $1.1 billion, according to the company. Further, those payments are in addition to the regular bonuses workers are already slated to receive.
Specifically, full-time hourly associates and drivers will get an additional $300, while part-time workers will get $150 if they are employed as of July 31, to be included in their Aug. 20 paychecks.
"You've been working at an incredible pace, you've solved problems, and you've set an amazing example for others," the CEO wrote.