News/Op-Ed: How Retail Stores Accomodate To Offer The Best Experience For Holiday Shopping In A Pandemic

by Diego Santizo, Sports Editor

If you’re a Black Friday shopper who usually joins the early deal hunters on Thursday, you can take this year off because most stores won’t even open until Friday.

Macy's is the first major retailer to welcome back in-store shopping in  Hawaii | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

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.

As retailers and customers brace themselves for the possibility of tighter pandemic-related restrictions and mandatory closures, this year’s Black Friday shopping season is shaping up to be unlike any before it. 

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.

A number of stores have bucked the usual holiday tradition and will be closed on Thanksgiving this year. Of course, they’ll be “open” online, and most have already with their promotions throughout November to avoid the typical post-turkey crowding.

If you choose to head out for that in-store spree, you’ll want to check the latest closure updates related to the coronavirus pandemic. (Los Angeles County is currently in the purple tier, which means stores are open but must maintain a maximum of 25% capacity.)

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. Target stores will close on Thanksgiving Day and will open for normal store hours on Black Friday.

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. The consumer electronics store will offer some Black Friday deals beginning Nov. 22.

Best Buy will keep its doors closed on Thanksgiving Day but will open them for Black Friday starting at 5 AM (PST) and the stores will stay open until 10 PM (PST). 

Walmart 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.

Stores will open up on Black Friday at 5 AM (PST). 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.

Honestly, this year online ordering will be your best bet for holiday gift shopping on Black Friday — select curbside pickup as a backup plan if your items can’t be delivered in the time frame that you need. 

Online orders and curbside pickup will remake the look of the 2020 holiday shopping season, especially as COVID cases surge again.

Curbside pickup helps overcome one big hurdle facing this holiday season: Shipping delays. That’s why many retailers have been enticing customers with deals for weeks already, further diminishing the importance of Black Friday.

If you still insist on having a Black Friday experience inside a store, stop and reevaluate your priorities. Seriously, there’s zero reason to go into a crowded store in the middle of a pandemic. And anyone who does venture into a store will be required to wear face masks or coverings (regardless of local ordinances), since nearly all national retailers require that precaution for entry. 

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