Walmart closing all U.S. stores for Thanksgiving Day

Walmart: Fast facts.

Walmart announced Friday all U.S. store locations will close for Thanksgiving Day 2021.

Stores will operate regular posted hours on Wednesday, Nov. 24. Information about store hours for Friday, Nov. 26, will be announced at a later date.

In May, Walmart raised its annual earnings forecast after delivering better-than-expected results in the first quarter that showed shoppers, flush with U.S. stimulus payments, splurged on clothing, as well as lawn and garden items.

Sales at stores opened at least a year rose 6%, slowing from the 8.6% increase during the fiscal fourth quarter. But it topped last year’s 10% spike when Walmart turned into a pandemic lifeline for millions of people. Online sales rose 37%, down from 69% during the fourth quarter.

“Our optimism is higher than it was at the beginning of the year,” CEO Doug McMillon said. “In the U.S., customers clearly want to get out and shop.”

McMillon said government stimulus money boosted sales and there is a lot of pent-up demand as the nation emerges from the pandemic. As people go out more, Walmart said sales of travel items and teeth whitener are popping as shoppers take their masks off. The company also said transactions in its stores were up for the first time in a year.

Shares rose nearly 4%, or $5.37, to $144.78 in morning trading.

Walmart has pushed further into fast and convenient delivery over the past year, and sales at its stores were elevated with so many other retailers forced to close during lockdowns. Even the massive infrastructure put into place by Walmart in recent years was strained by the crush of orders from millions of people sheltering at home.

It bumped up spending by $14 billion to speed up its distribution network, and in February said it would raise its average hourly wage to more than $15 per hour, a $1 increase. Amazon and Target have already increased hourly wages to $15 for all workers.

First-quarter net income was $2.73 billion, or 97 cents per share, in the three-month period ended April 30. That compares with $3.99 billion, or $1.40 per share, in the year-ago quarter. Adjusted earnings were $1.69 per share. Analysts were expecting $1.21 per share, according to FactSet.

Sales rose 2.6% to $137.16 billon. Analysts were expecting $132.16 billion.

Walmart said it now expects earnings to increase in the high single digits; previously, the company had projected a slight decline in profit for the year.

Walmart is still faced with plenty of challenges. Analysts believe that sign-ups for Walmart Plus, a membership program costing shoppers $98 annually, or $12.95 per month, are slowing. The retailer is hoping it will be a big competitor to Amazon’s juggernaut Prime free shipping program, launched 15 years ago. Walmart Plus gives members same-day delivery on 160,000 items, a fuel discount at certain gas stations and a chance to check out at Walmart stores without having to wait at a register.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.