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Walmart Is Bracing For a Different Holiday Shopping Season This Year

Thanksgiving won't be the same this year.
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Regardless of how you choose to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, you'll likely be gathered around a smaller table than normal. The number of people who plan to host extended family and friends on Thanksgiving fell from 30% to 26% this year, while the number of people who plan to host immediate family only has gone up, according to a survey from the Butterball turkey company.

But just because dinner may look a little different this year doesn't mean there won't be a rush to get the best ingredients for the year's holiday feast. Some retailers have embraced new tactics like stockpiling on turkeys and hams early to avoid shortages, while others are making sure they have a big enough supply of must-haves like cranberry sauce. (Related: 15 Classic American Desserts That Deserve a Comeback.)

Walmart, on the other hand, is preparing for a slightly less traditional Thanksgiving menu. The retailer is embracing the fact that fewer Americans will be hosting large crowds in their homes, which means the usual demand for the biggest turkeys will be replaced by one for smaller birds, according to Walmart divisional merchandise manager Jacqui Lyons. Thus, the retail giant will increase its stock of bone-in and boneless turkey pieces by 20–30% in stores across the country.

Like sister store Sam's ClubWalmart is also stocking up on holiday hams, which may end up taking center stage this year as customers look for alternatives to feed a smaller group of guests. One key indicator informing Walmart's strategy for the upcoming pandemic holidays: demand for ham hasn't waned since Easter.

"With customers planning smaller gatherings and prioritizing convenience, ham will be in the spotlight," Lyons says. "And we've increased our inventory accordingly."

To avoid crowds, which is recommended by the CDC, Walmart customers shopped earlier than ever this Easter. Accordingly, the retailer will extend its holiday shopping window to take the pressure of the usually-busy weekend before Thanksgiving. Its seasonal turkey offerings will begin as early as Nov. 2, so you can check things off your shopping list earlier than ever.

Recently, Walmart rolled back some in-store safety precautions which were implemented early on in the pandemic. In order to keep your contact with others to a minimum, you can always place an online order for curbside pickup or delivery.

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Mura Dominko
Mura Dominko is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!. Read more
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