Black Friday shopping being ‘reinvented’ by major retailers amid COVID-19
The usual pushing and shoving to snag that Black Friday item won’t happen this year as retailers grapple with the busiest shopping day amid the pandemic.
Face masks, straight lines, contactless payments and other safety measures will now define the 2020 shopping experience. Also, in an effort to make sure no shopper is left out, several companies will extend their doorbuster sales before and after Nov. 27.
“In terms of the traditional shopping on Black Friday with massive crowds," Bill Thorne with the National Retail Federation, explained, "I don’t think you’re going to see that. But people are going to shop Black Friday."
Regardless of the changes, stores hope to see a big boost in their business after taking a tremendous hit with off-and-on lockdowns since March.
“Their expectations are pretty optimistic. Will it be the same as they’ve seen in the past? We’ll see,” Thorne said.
FOX Television Stations compiled a list of how some of the biggest retailers will handle Black Friday 2020:
Florida, Spring Hill, Nature Coast Commons, shopping mall, Walmart, logo. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
The giant retailer announced in October that it will “reinvent” Black Friday to help shoppers remain safe from the pandemic. The company’s approach is to spread out Black Friday over several days.
Company leaders already kicked off, “Black Friday Deals for Days” earlier this month for online purchases. The next event will run from Nov. 25 to Nov. 27 with online and in-store deals.
“Over the past six months, our customers have been shopping differently, and we expect that will continue into the most important shopping season of the year – the holidays,” Scott McCall, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer for Walmart U.S., said in a statement.
Stores will open up on Black Friday at 5 a.m. local time. Customers will have to form a single, straight-line before entering the store. Associates will require customers to wear a mask and will sanitize shopping carts. Stores will also limit the number of people inside to promote social distancing. Aisles will be marked with signs telling shoppers where to walk as well.
A Best Buy employee uses a cart to do shopping for an online customer at South Bay Center in Boston. (Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
The consumer electronics store will offer some Black Friday deals beginning Nov. 22.
Best Buy will require customers to wear a face-covering inside stores. Additional employees will be on staff to answer any questions and manage lines. The stores will limit the number of indoor customers and direct customers where to walk to promote social distancing. Contactless pickup will also be available.
Best Buy will keep its doors closed on Thanksgiving Day but will open them for Black Friday starting at 5 a.m. local time and the stores will stay open until 10 p.m. local time.
Target y in San Ramon, California. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)
Target continues to roll out its Black Friday deals throughout the month. From now until Nov. 21, the store will offer discounts on electronics, apparel and beauty products. Between Nov. 22 and 28, shoppers can find deals on toys, kitchen, floorcare and electronics, including video games and select consoles.
In addition to mask requirements and social distancing, the store will enact new safety measures for the holiday shopping season. Shoppers will be able to check the store’s website to see if there’s a line outside their local store and to reserve a spot in line. Contactless payments will be allowed for customers. Employees will also help checkout shoppers anywhere throughout the store on mobile devices.
“We’re taking a completely new approach to Black Friday, giving guests more flexibility and ensuring they can plan ahead for a safe, stress-free shopping experience,” Christina Hennington, the executive vice president and chief merchandising officer of Target, said.
Target stores will close on Thanksgiving Day and will open for normal store hours on Black Friday, according to the Star Tribune.
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A citizen shops at Kohl's department store amid the coronavirus outbreak in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Liu Guanguan/China News Service via Getty Images)
Like its competitors, Black Friday deals started for the clothing company in early November and the deals will continue until Nov. 27.
New COVID-19 safety measures will go into place, including designated entrances and marked aisles for shoppers to maintain social distancing. Customers and employees will be required to wear face coverings and stay six feet apart. Touchless payment is also available.
Kohl’s will close stores on Thanksgiving but will reopen for Black Friday at 5 a.m. local time.
Home Depot in Dublin, California. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)
The do-it-yourself home improvement store unveiled its Black Friday deals in early November and will keep them in place through December for in-store and online purchases. Customers are encouraged to download and shop via the store’s mobile app.
Home Depot will close its stores on Thanksgiving Day.
FUTURE OF BLACK FRIDAY
Thorne said it will be up to consumers and retailers to determine if the country will ever see Black Friday crowds again.
“If they decide they think that Black Friday can be done in a better way, they’re going to do in a better way and if that means without the thousands of people crowded around in stores, then you’re not going to see that,” he said.
However, Thorne believes there will be an appetite among customers to continue the traditional shopping experience.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.