Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to Go Virtual as Pandemic Continues to Upend Traditions

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade will go on — but the iconic New York event will look much different in 2020 as the pandemic continues to upend traditions.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a morning conference the overhauled parade will not be held live. Instead, it will go virtual. Macy’s is expected to reveal details later today.

For now, the department store has posted this message on its website.

“Following our successful, safe and innovative production of Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks, it is our intention to similarly reimagine Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this November,” the retailer said.

Rather than holding its typical display on July 4, Macy’s instead staged several 5-minute shows across the five boroughs, spread out over multiple nights.

Some insiders have questioned whether Macy’s should continue to invest in expensive events as it lays off thousands of workers across all areas of the company. Like every retailer, the department store has been forced to slash costs and rethink its strategy as the pandemic accelerates major shifts in retail.

When Macy’s began sponsoring the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade, in 1924, department stores reigned supreme — but the landscape looks much different today.

The retailer has never disclosed the cost of the physical event, typically referring to it as its “gift to New York,” but according to estimates, it doesn’t come cheap.

One 2017 appraisal from the online shopping site Ebates.com put the approximate cost of the prior year’s spectacle as between $10.4 million and $12.3 million. For sponsors, a new balloon costs $190,000, which is reduced to $90,000 for each returning year.

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