Target announced Monday that it would be permanently closing its stores on Thanksgiving Day, expanding a practice it adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic, The Associated Press reported.

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Many retailers saw strong sales last year after being forced to rethink the traditional kickoff of the holiday shopping season by offering expanded sales events in early October.

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The AP reported that the adjusted holiday shopping format was originally meant to limit crowds in stores that could worsen the spread of the virus. But US buyers were in favor of the change to take advantage of longer sales and offers, rather than the usual frenzy in the first few days after Thanksgiving.

Between November and December last year, US holiday sales grew 8.2 percent in 2020, according to data from the National Retail Foundation, the nation’s largest retail trade group. The group estimates holiday sales could be even higher in 2021, rising between 8.5 percent and 10.5 percent, according to the AP.

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Target’s CEO Brian Cornell wrote in a note to employees, “What started as a temporary measure driven by the pandemic is now our new standard—one that meets our guests’ holiday wishes within and well of store hours. Recognizes our ability to deliver.”

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

The new standard at Target, on very healthy sales last year, could inspire other retailers to follow its path.

Delivery and call centers will have fewer employees on Thanksgiving, Target said Monday, but stores will remain closed.

Target began opening its stores on Thanksgiving a decade ago, joining other retailers in launching Black Friday sales the day before and creating the holiday crowd after the turkey feast. Many did so to compete with Amazon.com and other growing online threats.

But the change seemed to just cannibalize the Black Friday sales. And the big retailers faced some setback from critics, who said thousands were forced to work rather than be with family during the holiday.

Some stores and malls, such as the Mall of America in Minnesota, have abolished the practice and remain closed on Thanksgiving. Some, like Costco and Nordstrom never open their doors during the holiday, saying they want to honor the holiday.

Thanksgiving historically wasn’t a big sales day, not one of the top 10, as stores usually open their doors around 5 p.m. However, it’s been a big online sales day.

Last year, the holiday was behind only Cyber ​​Monday and Black Friday in online sales, according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index.