Walmart’s decision to close on Thanksgiving, give bonuses will pay off and catch on, expert says

Author: Shannon Roddel

ND Experts

James Otteson

James Otteson

Mendoza College of Business


Walmart announced July 21 that it would close all stores on Thanksgiving Day this year for the first time in 30 years, ending a tradition of kicking off in-store, door-buster Black Friday sales on the holiday. The world’s largest retailer also announced it would pay a third round of bonuses to U.S. employees in August.

Jim Otteson 1834
James Otteson

James Otteson, the John T. Ryan Jr. Professor of Business Ethics at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, believes Walmart’s decision will pay off and that other companies will follow its lead.

"The ultimate purpose of a company is to create value in the world, and successful companies know that means cultivating a culture of both gratitude and respect,” said Otteson, who specializes in the philosophy and morality of business. “Walmart's decision to close on Thanksgiving and give bonuses to its employees will ultimately pay great dividends in the form of appreciation from its employees.”

Last year, Walmart launched its door-buster sales at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, attracting huge crowds to its stores. Sam's Club will also remain closed on Thanksgiving, as it has in the past.

"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," said John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart U.S. He also announced Walmart will spend some $428 million on special bonuses for its employees for working through the pandemic.

“Some may wonder whether this is a good use of Walmart’s resources, but I suspect it will also pay dividends for its shareholders,” Otteson predicted, “because customers, who care about how the companies they patronize treat their workers, will likely respond favorably. It's a great decision, and I applaud Walmart for leading by example."


Contact: James Otteson,