With smaller-scale Thanksgiving celebrations this year due to the pandemic, grocery stores are stocking their fresh and frozen sections with proportionally appropriate poultry.
"Demand for turkey will undoubtedly look different this year, and at Walmart, we made early shifts to ensure our customers would find the items they want for the Thanksgiving meal," Jacqui Lyons, the company's divisional merchandise manager of seafood and seasonal meat, said in a statement. "With more customers planning for smaller groups, we anticipate a higher preference for smaller turkeys. As always, we’ll have plenty of whole turkeys, but this year, we’ve increased our assortment of bone-in and boneless turkey breasts by 20-30% in stores across the country."
She also explained that the change comes based on predictions that the usually busy grocery shopping weekend ahead of Thanksgiving will now be spread over multiple days.
Walmart said the number of consumers who plan to host extended family and friends for Thanksgiving has dropped by 4% this year, according to Butterball, while those who plan to celebrate only with immediate family rose from 21% in a typical year to 31%.
The retailer looked at shopper habits this past Easter that showed they 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.
Walmart will begin selling turkeys as soon as Nov. 2.
Additionally, Walmart's Easter sales showed that ham purchases continued to peak into summer with people inspired to cook differently at home.
"We expect that trend to continue right into Thanksgiving dinner. With Walmart customers planning smaller gatherings and prioritizing convenience, ham will be in the spotlight and we’ve increased our inventory accordingly," the company said. "From turkey and ham to all the sides, our merchants have been busy preparing for a season unlike any other so that our customers can take comfort in knowing the items will be here in our stores and available for online pickup and delivery, ready when they are."