When it comes to grocery, the weekend before Thanksgiving is typically a busy one as shoppers across the country begin to prepare the holiday meal, according to Jacqui Lyons, divisional merchandise manager of seafood and seasonal meat at Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart.
“This year has brought rapid and constant change in every facet of our daily lives, and we know Thanksgiving celebrations will be no exception. The sprint to Thanksgiving is likely going to be spread over a greater number of days, and the largest turkey in the freezer is less likely to be the star,” she said.
Demand for turkey will undoubtedly look different this year, and Walmart has made early shifts to ensure its customers will find the items they want for the Thanksgiving meal. Here’s how it is preparing for “center of plate” this Thanksgiving, Lyons said.
- COVID-19 continues to reshape how people shop, and in turn, it’s sure to reshape traditions this holiday season. In fact, according to Butterball, the number of consumers who plan to host extended family and friends for Thanksgiving has dropped from 30 percent during a typical year, to 26 percent this year, while those who plan to celebrate only with immediate family has risen from 21 percent in a typical year, to 31 percent.
- With more customers planning for smaller groups, Walmart anticipates a higher preference for smaller turkeys. As always, its stores will have plenty of whole turkeys, but this year, it has increased the assortment of bone-in and boneless turkey breasts by 20-30 percent in stores across the country.
- Walmart also learned a lot from its customers this past Easter. To avoid crowds, shoppers stocked up earlier than ever. That’s going to continue this holiday season. It’s no longer about catering to a single peak the weekend before Thanksgiving. This year, Walmart customers can take advantage of everyday low prices on a range of turkeys beginning earlier in the season on Nov. 2.
- Following Easter, ham sales continued to peak even into summer as people were inspired to cook differently at home. Walmart expects that trend to continue right into Thanksgiving dinner. With customers planning smaller gatherings and prioritizing convenience, ham will be in the spotlight and Walmart increased its inventory accordingly.
“We know this year has been difficult for our customers and their families. We know they’re busy and burdened, and we know they want to make the holiday special,” Lyons said. “Regardless of how they plan to celebrate Thanksgiving, we’re committed to ensuring our customers can find what they want earlier in the season, all at affordable prices. From turkey and ham, to all the sides, our merchants have been busy preparing for a season unlike any other so that our customers can take comfort in knowing the items will be here in our stores and available for online pickup and delivery, ready when they are.”