Target stores to close Thanksgiving amid COVID-19 pandemic, following Walmart's holiday closing announcement

Kelly Tyko

Target stores will be closed on Thanksgiving amid the coronavirus pandemic, but plan to start rolling out its biggest deals of the year in stores and online in October.

The Minneapolis-based retailer announced an early preview of its holiday shopping plans Monday, about four months before the holiday and days after Walmart said its stores would be closed on Thanksgiving for the first time since the late 1980s.

“This year more than ever, a joyful holiday will be inseparable from a safe one, and we’re continuing to adjust our plans to deliver ease, value and the joy of the season in a way that only Target can," Target CEO Brian Cornell said in a news release Monday.

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Dick's Sporting Goods also announced Monday that its stores and distribution centers will be closed Thanksgiving. Dick's said its Black Friday hours would be shared at a later date.

The last time Target closed its stores on Thanksgiving was in 2011, the company confirmed to USA TODAY. In 2019, Target stores opened for Black Friday doorbusters at 5 p.m. local time Thanksgiving Day.

Target will start requiring shoppers to wear masks at stores nationwide Aug. 1, following other national retailers with new mask mandates including Walmart, Sam's Club and Costco. 

Target's holiday deals starting early

Target said it's "stretching out the savings" starting in October for safety and to give shoppers flexibility.

"Historically, deal hunting and holiday shopping can mean crowded events, and this isn’t a year for crowds," Target said in its release. "That’s why our biggest holiday deals will be available earlier than ever, so you can shop safely and conveniently without worrying about missing out on deals that usually come later in the season."

Members of the free Target Circle loyalty program will also get updates on deals throughout the season, the company said.

"This season, you can count on getting extra-big savings without the extra-long lines, with plenty of opportunities to score the best deals on the hottest items both before and after November 26," Target said in its release.

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More fresh groceries available

Target plans to have fresh and frozen grocery pickup in 1,500 locations by the holidays and currently has the expanded service in more than 1,000 stores in 47 states. 

In its release, the retailer said it's making 20,000 more products including the groceries available through its pickup and delivery services.

"This holiday season, we’re doubling down, making 20,000 more gifts, essentials and everything in between available via our popular same-day services," Target said in the release.

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Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko