2020 is the year that keeps on giving.  As the nation (and the Northland) gets ready to plan and host the traditional Thanksgiving meal later this month comes this news: The COVID-19 Pandemic has gained another casualty in the form of large turkeys.

For centuries, the extra-large roasted turkey has been the centerpiece of the stereotypical Thanksgiving dinner table.  But - perhaps - not this year.  Turkey processors and retail outlets are planning for customers downsizing their meal this year.  That downsizing could result in less larger turkeys or "complete" turkeys being sold  with a majority of customers choosing other less-traditional meals or smaller birds.

The movement to downsize the traditional Thanksgiving meal follows the expectation that families will be gathering less or in smaller groupings.  Jacqui Lyons - a Divisional Merchandise Manager for Walmart shared with news sources:

"This year has brought rapid and constant change in every facet of our daily lives, and we know Thanksgiving celebrations will be no exception.  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."

To prepare for less of a demand, retailers like Walmart are stocking other proteins in place of the large, frozen turkey.  Smaller turkey breasts, smaller turkeys, and even hams will be taking up the meat-case space instead of a large, full-size turkey.  Lyons shared that Walmart "has increased its offerings of bone-in and boneless turkey breasts by 20% to 30% in stores across the nation."

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Retailers are also prepping for less of a focused shopping rush (i.e. the day or week before Thanksgiving).  Stores are expecting that customers will shop similar to how they did for their Easter meals - early, and more-spread out than ever before.  The shopping shift is likely due to people hoping to avoid the standard, expected large crowd in grocery stores in the days leading up to the holiday; by spreading out their own shopping, they rush that normally occurs for stores is also dampened.

Meanwhile, turkey processors are hoping for a decent holiday shopping season.  Many took economic hits earlier in the year as their restaurant orders decreased as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Sources share that Butterball is anticipating that "nearly 90% " of surveyed customers plan to have a Thanksgiving meal this year, but "30% said they are only hosting immediate family this year".  That said, Butterball still says that "75% of hosts planned to serve the same size or larger turkey than last year".

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