Black Friday 2020

Black Friday, everyone’s favorite unofficial holiday! The day after Thanksgiving is the holiday shopping experience that typically brings the most in-person crowds. This year, however, we might be waiting a few more days for the sales so we can stay home and shop online. COVID-19 is messing up this holiday much like it has messed up everything else in 2020. The Visa Back to Business Study found that only about half the amount of consumers are planning to shop mostly in-person during the holidays, 26% are planning on shopping mostly online, and another 26 % plan to do a mix of both. Despite the lack of in-store shoppers, 78% of businesses are planning on opening for Black Friday. Here are a few ways they are preparing:

Skip the traditional early morning rush (but start early)

Having all customers wait at a specific time and location doesn’t seem like the most COVID-friendly option. Instead, businesses plan to extend their sales over a period of days or even weeks to space out the crowds. This will allow for the same amount of customers to walk in the door without breaking CDC guidelines and capacity rules. Be prepared to check out when the best deals are available for the stores you would like to shop at!

Rethink in-store traffic flow

Even with limited shoppers, it is important to keep customers socially distant at all times. Some stores have gone about this by removing unnecessary fixtures to clear up as much aisle room as possible. Victoria’s Secret has said they are exploring mobile checkout set-ups to prevent clumps of people forming near their cash registers. Also, larger stores such as Target that have both in-store counters and curbside pickup for online orders are urging customers to opt for the curbside option at checkout. This will allow for customers to get the purchases with less contact with others.

Lengthen the return window

Since the number of customers allowed in stores is limited,  it would be unfortunate to have some spots being taken up by someone simply making a return. That will be a challenge for all retailers, but particularly so for specialty shops with relatively small store footprints. Some chains are loosening their return policies to give people more time to seek refunds on unwanted items, in addition to helping ease pile-ups in their e-commerce fulfillment centers. Therefore, lengthening return windows will benefit both the retailer and its customers.

Most importantly, if you’re worried about COVID-19, Don’t go out! Cyber Monday has become more efficient and reliable as the years of technology development have gone on. Many stores like Ace Hardware, Barnes & Noble, Crate & Barrel, Gap, IKEA, and Marshalls have decided to not open for in person on Thanksgiving and there is a possibility they will not be opening on Black Friday either. By shopping online, you will be able to get the best deals at busy or unopened locations this holiday season. So this Black Friday, stay safe, healthy, and shop until you drop!