Walmart predicts a change in ‘center of plate’ Thanksgiving preparations

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HOUSTON (NEXSTAR/KIAH) — When it comes to holiday meal preparations, the weekend before Thanksgiving is typically a busy one for shoppers across the country.

This year, the coronavirus pandemic has brought quite a few changes to American daily life, and Thanksgiving celebrations will be no exception.

“We know this year has been difficult for our customers and their families,” said Jacqui Lyons, a Walmart divisional merchandise manager. “We know they’re busy and burdened, and we know they want to make the holiday special.”

As people shift the way they shop, the demand for turkey is expected to look different this year, including a demand for smaller birds. In response, the retailer has increased its stock of bone-in and boneless turkey breasts by 20% to 30% in its stores, though it will continue to offer whole turkeys as well.

“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,” Lyons said.

According to Butterball, the number of consumers who plan to host extended family and friends for Thanksgiving has dropped from 30% during a typical year to 26% this year. And those who plan to celebrate with immediate family only has risen from 21% in a typical year to 31%.

The retailer also said it learned from customer behavior 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,” Lyons said.

Additionally, ham is expected to be in the spotlight as people plan smaller gatherings and prioritize convenience. The retailer said it has increased its inventory to meet the anticipated demand.

“From turkey and ham to all the sides, our merchants have been busy preparing for a season unlike any other,” Lyons said.

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