New York CNN Business  — 

It has not been unusual in recent years for shoppers to skip the turkey dinner on Thanksgiving to stand in long lines outside of malls in hopes of scoring a cheap TV or doorbuster deal.

But this year, at some of America’s biggest malls and outlet centers, the Thanksgiving Day discount shopping frenzy won’t be happening.

Mall owner Simon Property Group (SPG) said Monday its locations will remain closed on Thanksgiving, though they will open the following day for Black Friday.

“In these challenging times, we made the decision that we will not open on Thanksgiving Day, instead allowing our associates to spend the holiday with their loved ones,” David Simon, the company’s CEO, said in a release.

The announcement marks a major shift in strategy for the biggest shopping weekend of the year — which had been getting longer and longer, with more stores opening on Thanksgiving and promotions extending to Cyber Monday and into December. Simon is the largest mall operator in the United States.

Many experts had been expecting such a shift this year, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

“With everything that’s going on, there may be no Black Friday at all,” Scott Rankin, principal and national consumer and retail strategy leader with KPMG US, told CNN Business in July. “I can’t imagine retailers buying inventory to stock up for an event designed to pack hundreds of people into a store. There are so many risks to that.”

Simon’s decision may also reflect that fact that, even before the pandemic, consumers had been increasingly opting to shop Thanksgiving and Black Friday deals online, rather than joining the mad dash in stores. Last year, Thanksgiving Day online sales hit a record $4.2 billion.