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Walmart Will Close All Of Its Stores On Thanksgiving This Year

Walmart announced this week that it will be keeping all of its retail locations closed on Thanksgiving this year. Traditionally, Walmart begins its epic Black Friday sale on Thanksgiving, drawing massive crowds of individuals ready to take advantage of all the sales. However, this year due to Covid-19 concerns and the uncertainty of how far along a vaccine will be by November, the corporation is deciding now to close down for the holiday. 

All Sam’s Club stores will also be closed down, marking a huge departure from company tradition, however, as we’ve seen with countless annual parades, award shows, music festivals, etc. many cultural traditions have been put on pause indefinitely until the world gets a better handle on this virus that’s infecting millions.  

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Sam’s Club is a part of Walmart’s warehouse chain and it normally is closed down on Thanksgiving every year anyway, so that choice wasn’t that out of the ordinary. John Furner, the president and CEO of Walmart in the US recently released a statement in which he praised all of his employees for being so patient and dedicated during these uncertain times.  

“We know this has been a trying year, and our associates have stepped up. 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.”

Walmart normally is open during its regular hours on Thanksgiving, but has special roped off areas where Black Friday merchandise that’s already marked down is on sale. The sales begin to appear more and more as the day progresses until they open again on Black Friday itself, where the whole store is essentially marked down. 

Last year, Walmart made the decision to start its Black Friday door-buster sales at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving which, business wise, draws a ton of customers into the store early before they go to all their other favorite retail establishments the next day. 

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Walmart and other major retail corporations in America typically always stay open on Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving/Black Friday weekend is one of the biggest retail events to happen annually, however, that doesn’t mean that these retail giants haven’t faced their fair share of criticism for doing this. 

Pandemic aside, normally many customers and employees ban together in their belief that everyone deserves to take the day off to spend it with their families and loved ones, as that’s the point of the entire holiday. Black Friday itself is a holiday specifically made for working in retail, so why should employees be expected to work both days in a row when the sales are the same? 

However, the decision to close this year was more so inspired by the pandemic directly and will likely not become an annual tradition, according to Furner who claimed in his statement that the decision to close was inspired by a manager at one of Walmart’s Texas locations. 

“Kevin Carlyle is the People Lead at Store #475 in Round Rock, Texas. 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.”

With this announcement the company also claimed that they would be providing their employees with an additional bonus of $150-$300 starting on August 20th. This is the third round of bonuses for employees since the beginning of the pandemic and any employee (part and full time) who started working for Walmart before July 31st will qualify.

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Thanksgiving Travel Expected To Be Highest on Record

With the Thanksgiving holiday just around the corner many families and friends are planning breaks away to spend time with their loved ones and airlines are anticipating record breaking levels of travel despite the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft.

An announcement by Airlines for America (A4A) has predicted this year’s Thanksgiving holiday to not only be the busiest time of this year but also in US commercial aviation history.

A major player in American aviation services, A4A represent the nine biggest US cargo and passenger carriers and have claimed over 3.1 million passengers will be traveling on the Sunday after the holiday meaning 1 December could be breaking records across the country.

After analysing the holiday period, A4A have claimed between 31.6 and 55 million passengers will be traveling throughout the 12 day holiday period, an increase of 2.7 per cent over the same period last year.

It is also expected load factors are to be between 79% and 91% for the period, with the official holiday break confirmed as being between Friday 22 November and Tuesday 3 December.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are expecting the busiest days for travel being Wednesday 27 November and Sunday 1 December, with the actual Thanksgiving Day being the quietest time to travel. In fact in order to reduce security line times various U.S. airlines have increased their offerings with a further 850 flights – or 108,000 seats – added to the schedules each day.

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These increases have been predicted despite daily airline departures still being reduced significantly due to the grounding of the 737 Max in March this year following two fatal accidents. Currently 76 new aircraft have not been delivered as expected while 72 planes are still grounded meaning all airlines have had to put together new plans to keep up with demand, including retirements being delayed, holidays being postponed, schedules being restructured and maintenance being carried out where required.

John Heimlich, Vice President and Chief Economist of Airlines for America states, ‘airlines had to take greater measures to offset the Max issues.’

November and December are the busiest periods in the travel calendar however this year the daily departures are currently estimated to have a net reduction of 417 for November and 426 for December, which are higher than average. This is despite the increase over the holiday periods.

Clearly all airlines are keen to have the planes returning to active service with Mr Heimlich commenting on the long term effects the industry could suffer once they are in back in service:

‘It’s unlikely that the manufacturer will be able to deliver all those planes on day one. It will be phased in, and even at the airlines which have already taken delivery of Max aircraft, it will take some time to work them back in to the schedule. The market knows this is coming.’

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The additional aircraft, and therefore extra flights, will be in demand during 2020. Currently the U.S. has a strong economy thanks in part to the constant growth in employment leading to more disposable income. Add to this the consistently low fares as well as consumer confidence at an all time high and the continuing increases in gross domestic product.

According to Boeing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are expected to award certification within the next 6 weeks, however this does not mean there is a specific date for the aircraft to return to our skies.

A4A recently published their industry review and have stated that around $18.1 billion was spent upgrading the metal for all the fleet renewal, satisfying demand, however if the Max had not been grounded the investment would have been nearer $19 billion. According to Heimlich that extra billion dollars should be deferred to the 2020 budge.

Domestic travel has continued to grow throughout the United States with passenger traffic in the first nine months of 2019 seeing an increase of 4 per cent compared to the same period in 2018. An average of 26,100 flights took off from U.S. airports each day via both American and foreign airlines, an increase of 2.7% from last year. The number of seats filled also increased with an extra 3.16 million sold, an increase of 3.5%.

If this has put you off the idea of flying home for the holidays you could drive, however the roads are expected to see around 49.3 million travellers heading to their families. These figures are a 2.8% increase on last year and the largest figures since 2005.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) predicts a peak of traffic on Wednesday as most travelers try to beat the holiday rush. Yet mixed with the every day commuters trips can be expected to take up to four times as long, so make sure you pack enough supplies to keep you fed and watered.

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Storms Threaten Holiday Travel Across US

The holidays are undoubtedly the most difficult time of the year to travel in the United States, as roughly 55 million Americans take to airports and highways to visit their families before the end of the year. This year, however, may pose even more of a travel headache than usual, as multiple storms are forecasted to hit various parts of the US this Thanksgiving. According to U.S. News, a snowstorm is expected in Colorado, Kansas, and northern New Mexico on Friday and Saturday, potentially wreaking havoc on these states’ roads. Additionally, a mixture of rain and snow is forcasted for Missouri and Maine, among other states. Much of the southeastern U.S., alongside the East Coast, is expected to be impacted by thunderstorms as well. 

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Over the weekend, the disruptive weather system is predicted to continue moving east, causing freezing rain in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts. Next week, rain will turn into snow in Chicago on Tuesday, and Wisconsin and Michigan will receive heavy snow on Tuesday and Wednesday. In the Northeast, temperatures will not reach freezing, but a storm system will cause rain on Tuesday and Wednesday, thankfully clearing up in time of New York’s Thanksgiving Day parade on Thursday.

Already, a winter storm in Denver has caused a 50 car pile-up, and this storm is moving from the Rockies toward the Northeast, according to ABC 7 NY. The central U.S. is predicted to be the area of the country most affected during the peak of Thanksgiving travel, but travel is sure to be disrupted throughout the country due to weather over the coming days and weeks. According to the AAA, travel during the holidays already takes four times longer than usual due to the increase in traffic, and weather will likely make this travel time even longer to the point of being nearly impossible in some areas. Even more people are predicted to travel this year than last year, as the AAA predicts an additional 1.6 million more people will travel in 2019 than in 2018, as a result of a strong economy.

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If you’re one of the millions of Americans planning on traveling this year, it would be wise to take some precautions to ensure you arrive at your destination safely and on time. According to a AAA report, the absolute worst day to travel is Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, though roads are likely to see very heavy congestion all week. AAA predicts that it will receive more than 368,000 calls from motorists in need of help this holiday season, with dead batteries, lockouts, and flat tires being the most common issues. While gas prices are predicted to stay at a relatively low $2.57 per gallon this holiday, this means that more people will be motivated to drive, making congestion worse.

Many people travel to warm-weather areas during the holiday season, and this year will be no different. According to the AAA, the top three travel destinations for Thanksgiving will be Orlando, Florida; Anaheim, California; and New York, New York, with theme parks being a major attraction during the holidays. In addition to car and plane travel, travel by train, bus, and cruise ship is also expected to peak during the holiday season, though not to the same degree as the other, more popular forms of travel. Air travel in particular will be more difficult this year than last year, as the AAA predicts that air travel will grow by 4.6% this year, a substantially higher margin than any other form of travel. The most important thing to consider when traveling during the holidays, especially when weather conditions are projected to cause difficulties, is the personal safety of yourself and your passengers. As such, you should take steps to prepare for the event of an emergency if you plan to travel.

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What To Expect For Your Thanksgiving Commute This Year

As the holiday season is about to kick off next week with Thanksgiving, millions upon millions of Americans are gearing up for their first holiday travels of the season. If you’ve travelled for the holidays in the past, then you definitely know that planning is truly everything when it comes to the big commute. Whether you’re flying, driving, or taking the train, commuting during the holiday season can be tricky and stressful and this year is no different. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), there will be a record breaking number of travelers both on the road and in the air this year. 

The AAA reported that a total of 55.3 million people are expected to be travelling between Wednesday November 27th and Sunday December 1st, all via car, train, plane, and even a cruise ship. Compared to last years data that’s an increase of 1.6 million individuals on the road, in the air, and in the sea. 

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“With record levels of travelers, and persistent population growth in the country’s major metropolitan areas, drivers must prepare for major delays. Although travel times will peak on Wednesday afternoon nationally, travelers should expect much heavier than normal congestion throughout the week,” said Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at INRIX, a partner transportation analytics company of AAA.

According to their data the worst day and time to travel via car will be Wednesday afternoon. They predict any individual who begins their commute between the times of 5 to 8 pm can expect an additional 3 and a half hours to what their commute would be with no traffic! However, the data also suggested that severe traffic could begin as early as 1 pm in some areas of the U.S. such as Los Angeles or New York. 

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Air travel predictions estimate that up to 5 million Americans will be flying to get to their Thanksgiving destinations this year. The busiest day for air travel, however, will actually come after Thanksgiving day, as opposed to before like with ground transportation. Sunday December 1st is predicted to see 3.1 million passengers flying via U.S. airlines. The Monday before Thanksgiving is expected to be the lightest travel day for this holiday in particular, for any mode of transportation. 

The AAA suggests for individuals who still aren’t don’t planning their holiday commute this year, consider leaving on Thanksgiving day itself if possible. Not only are the roads predicted to be much less congested, but plane ticket prices will be the cheapest for the week. 

The data also showed that the top places that Americans will be travelling to this Thanksgiving are places with much warmer climates to escape the brutal winter that has already begun here in America. Orlando, Florida and Anaheim, California are the top two destinations this year, and four out of the top 10 destinations in general are located in Florida, Disney World should be predicting massive traffic as always. 

Regardless of where and when you’re planning on travelling, just make sure you do have a plan and give your hosts a heads up of any delays you’ll be experiencing, and most importantly stay safe.