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February 27, 2024

Many Retailers Close Early or Remain Open for Last-Minute Christmas Eve Shoppers

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Dec 24, 2023

Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday this year, and retailers are balancing closing early to give employees time with family while also accommodating any last-minute shoppers finishing up their holiday shopping lists. Several major retailers like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy are closing early, while drugstore chains like CVS and Walgreens are sticking to regular weekend hours at many locations.

Walmart Closing at 6 PM Nationwide

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, is closing all of its stores nationwide at 6 PM local time on Christmas Eve. This closing time is several hours earlier than normal to allow employees to spend time with family and friends during the holiday evening. With over 4700 Walmart stores in the United States, this decision impacts a significant number of shoppers.

Walmart’s early closing may send many last-minute shoppers to other retailers in hopes of finishing up their gift or food shopping on Christmas Eve. Other stores staying open later into the evening include CVS, Walgreens, and Dollar General.

Target Shutting Doors at 8 PM Christmas Eve

Target announced last month that it would close all stores at 8 PM local time on December 24th. This closes most Target locations 5-6 hours earlier than normal. With nearly 2000 stores across the country, Target’s early closure will impact many shoppers still hoping to grab last-minute deals on Christmas Eve.

A Target spokesperson said the decision balances employees’ desire to be with family on Christmas Eve while still serving any last-minute holiday shoppers. They encourage shoppers to shop early in the season, or at the latest, earlier in the day on Christmas Eve.

Best Buy Closing at 6 PM

Consumer electronics retailer Best Buy is closing even earlier than normal, with stores shutting down at 6 PM local time. This contrasts with normal Saturday hours of 10 AM to 9 PM for most locations.

With time running out for shoppers still hoping to purchase tech gifts like phones, laptops, and gaming systems, Best Buy’s early closure may send shoppers looking elsewhere if they waited until late on Christmas Eve.

Drugstore Chains Keeping Regular Weekend Hours

Two of the largest drugstore chains, CVS and Walgreens, announced the majority of their locations will operate regular weekend hours on Christmas Eve and be open on Christmas Day with reduced hours.

CVS said most of its over 9000 stores will close at their normal late evening times if not open 24 hours. A small number of locations may have limited local hours based on regional preferences. Walgreens also stated the vast majority of its over 9000 stores will maintain standard hours.

Keeping drugstores open later provides shoppers a place to pick up last-minute food, beverages, snacks, small gifts, gift cards and critical medication refills on Christmas Eve while also serving customers on Christmas Day.

Dollar General Maintains Usual Hours

Most Dollar General stores will operate under normal weekend hours on December 24th, closing between 10-11 PM in the evening depending on local schedules. This gives shoppers on a tight budget an option for picking up small gifts, gift wrap, holiday food, beverages and other essentials at the last minute before stores close for the holiday.

With over 18,000 Dollar General stores primarily in smaller and rural communities, the chain serves many shoppers not close to larger retailers like Walmart and Target. Maintaining usual weekend hours accommodates these shoppers finishing errands on Christmas Eve.

Grocery Stores Also Closing Early Christmas Eve

Grocery stores and supermarkets are also closing earlier than normal on Christmas Eve to allow their employees time off to celebrate the holiday that evening. This may catch some shoppers off guard trying to shop for food at the last minute.

Here are closing times for some major grocery store chains:

Grocery Store Christmas Eve Closing Time
Albertsons 7 PM
Kroger 6 PM
Publix 7 PM
Safeway 5 PM
Wegmans 6 PM
Whole Foods Market 6 PM for most stores

Shoppers should plan grocery shopping earlier on Saturday or even Friday to avoid limited Christmas Eve hours. Otherwise, convenience stores and drugstores will be the only options later at night.

Convenience Stores Staying Open for Last-Minute Needs

Convenience store chains like 7-Eleven, Circle K, and Wawa all stated most locations will maintain 24 hour schedules through Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Their locations primarily along highways and providing fuel services accommodate travelers and very last-minute shoppers finishing errands.

These stores can fulfill immediate needs like fuel, snacks, hot & prepared foods, beverages, small gift items, ice, medication refills, etc. With many retailers closed Christmas day, convenience stores become an essential option to pick up a missing ingredient or lifesaving medication.

What Should Shoppers Do?

  • Finish holiday shopping early this weekend before limited Christmas Eve hours
  • Shop earlier in the day Saturday before evening closures
  • Expect closed stores Christmas day outside convenience & drugstores
  • Know store closing times to avoid being caught needing last minute items
  • Make backup plans like cooking simpler meals if ingredients are forgotten
  • Understand employee needs to cut hours and compensate earlier

With many retailers closing 2-4 hours earlier than normal on Saturday, shoppers should adjust expectations and finish up errands sooner. Prepare for stores to close in the 5 PM – 8 PM range in the evening rather than staying open late night. Expect Sunday Christmas day to have very limited store availability outside some convenience locations.

Retailers shortened holiday hours to strike a balance between serving customer needs and employee well-being. Shoppers benefit from planning earlier shopping trips this weekend. With some advance preparation, customers can adapt to the limited Christmas Eve and day store schedules.

What’s Next?

  • Retailers and restaurants resume normal schedules the day after Christmas
  • Consumers flood stores next week to use gift cards and return unwanted gifts
  • Analysts assess 2022 holiday sales numbers after the season wraps up
  • Retailers begin gearing up for other winter events like Super Bowl Sunday

Christmas Eve early closures just accelerate the temporary reduction in shopping options for one evening. Most retailers resume standard opening hours on Monday as the holiday weekend concludes. Shoppers tend to flock back to stores the week after Christmas, armed with gift cards and unwanted presents to exchange.

Once 2022 holiday sales finish tabulation in January, analysts will see if inflation and recession worries dramatically hampered Christmas spending. Early indicators point towards reasonable growth, aided by a still comparatively strong job market.

For retailers, the holiday focus now shifts towards promotions for other winter events like the Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day, and spring inventory clearances. But for now, stores are focused on finishing service for the last-minute Christmas rush this weekend.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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