One of America's largest retailers is giving thanks by giving up Thanksgiving. In an effort to thank employees for the hard work they've exhibited during the coronavirus pandemic, Walmart will keep all stores closed this Thanksgiving. Walmart's decision to effectively give all of its associates Thanksgiving off is a noticeable departure from the retailer's tradition of rolling out Black Friday deals on Thanksgiving night.
"We know this has been a trying year, and our associates have stepped up," John Furner, Walmart U.S.' president and CEO, said in a statement released Tuesday. "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."
In a company email sent to all of Walmart's U.S. team members — which the retailer shared with Romper — Furner revealed the idea to close stores on Thanksgiving had actually come from a Walmart associate. "Our best ideas come from our associates," Furner wrote, adding that it was Kevin Carlyle, a Human Resources employee in Round Rock, Texas, who approached corporate leadership about giving all Walmart employees the day off. "He recently wrote us and suggested that we close for Thanksgiving during this unusual year, so that our associates could spend the day with their families," Furner said. "We want you to enjoy the day at home with your loved ones."
Walmart has traditionally opened its doors to Black Friday shoppers as early as 6 p.m. local time on Thanksgiving Day, according to Yahoo!. In fact, a spokesperson for Walmart told Yahoo! the retailer hadn't closed all of its U.S. locations on Thanksgiving since the late 1980s.
On Tuesday, Walmart also announced the company was extending a summer cash bonus to all associates as part of the retailer's efforts to thank its employees for working throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. According to Walmart, full-time, hourly-paid associates and drivers will receive a $300 bonus while temporary and part-time, hourly-paid associates will receive a $150 bonus. Bonuses will also be given to assistant managers as well as store and facility managers, although Walmart has not disclosed what these will amount to or how they will be paid. All together, Walmart has said it will provide up to $428 million to employees via bonuses.
"We're now more than halfway through 2020, and our country continues to deal with unprecedented challenges, a new way of life, and uncertainty about the future," Furner told employees via email. "Throughout all of this, Walmart associates have continued to help their fellow Americans get the food, medicine, supplies, and support they've needed. You've been working at an incredible pace, you've solved problems, and you've set an amazing example for others."