By Colleen Curry
Though aisles filled with processed foods and discount clothes are a nontraditional place to spend Thanksgiving, Walmart employees who work the holiday will at least be treated to a traditional feast of turkey, mashed potatoes, rolls and pie.
Workers who are scheduled for overnight shifts, day shifts and evening shifts on turkey day will receive a Thanksgiving meal provided by the company, according to Kory Lundberg, a Walmart spokesman.
Some 1 million Walmart employees will work the holiday shifts, he said. Walmart will start its Black Friday sales at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day this year, two hours earlier than last year.
Not all Walmart workers were so enthused about turning Thanksgiving into a working day, however. A petition against Walmart’s holiday hours that was posted on Change.org noted that “Thanksgiving is a time for family,” and “other large corporations, such as Home Depot, close their doors.”
“Most businesses are closed on Thanksgiving, I understand that Walmart is a staple in many towns, but everyone survives it being closed on Christmas. As a single mother, it breaks my heart to know that I won’t be able to spend that time with my son,” the author of the petition, who identified herself on the site as Stephenie Ritter, wrote.
On Monday, Walmart EVP Duncan Mac Naughton said such complaints are the minority. Store “associates are really excited to work that day. It’s a pretty high-energy day for associates as well.”
Lundberg noted that most of the 4,000 Walmarts in the U.S. are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week anyway, and so have been open on Thanksgiving for years.
“We’ll have turkey, mashed potatoes, rolls, and pies. The pies will vary based on regional varieties, so there will be pecan in the south, pumpkin everywhere, probably apple pie in regions where that is traditional. Regional traditions will be reflected in what we bring in,” Lundberg said.
The company will use catering firms and restaurants near the Walmart stores to supply the meals. On Black Friday, many locations will offer workers sandwiches to help deal with the rush of holiday shoppers.
“The idea is to make it as fun and festive as we can,” he said.
Employees that work the holiday will receive holiday pay plus a 25 percent discounts on items they purchase.