Walgreens has made a historic change in its long-standing policy of remaining open for business on Thanksgiving Day.
The pharmacy giant, founded in 1901, announced Nov. 16 that, for the first time in company history, most stores will be closed on Nov. 23 this year. The exceptions are its 24-hour locations; nearly all of those 700 stores will stay open.
Walgreens' executive vice president released a statement on behalf of the company, stating that, in response to a growing number of employee concerns about being overworked, most Walgreens won't open for business as usual.
“We have consistently heard from our team members — who are the face of Walgreens — that time off is a meaningful way for us to demonstrate we value them,” said Tracey D. Brown, EVP, president of Walgreens retail and chief customer officer, in a press release.
“We heard them, are committed to listening to their feedback and are dedicated to doing what is right for them. We hope they can enjoy the holiday and spend time with their loved ones.”
This fall, pharmacy staff members at multiple Walgreens and CVS locations walked off the job, citing what they consider unsafe work conditions. They say they are overworked and managing multiple tasks, including handling a high volume of calls, administering vaccines and working with insurance companies.
In its Nov. 16 press release, Walgreens said it recognizes these concerns during cold and flu season: "Walgreens pharmacy team members are especially critical to communities by providing patients with life-saving vaccines, COVID-19 and flu testing, health screenings and needed medications—in some instances even serving as a primary point of care for individuals who have limited access to other healthcare professionals and services."
In recognition of that and the contributions of their staff, Brown said in the same press release that the change in Thanksgiving store hours is "intended to acknowledge the dedication of our store team members and leadership, pharmacists and pharmacy techs who are working incredibly hard to deliver great customer and patient care."
While most Walgreens will be closed on Thanksgiving in 2023, stores will resume normal hours beginning Friday, Nov. 24. Customers can visit Walgreens' store locator to find out holiday hours for their area stores.
This article was originally published on TODAY.com