October 19, 2020 -- Black Friday shopping will look a little different this year at major stores trying to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Instead of large crowds and frenzied grabs for major deals, customers may see limits to in-store capacity, orderly lines, and other COVID-19 restrictions.
At Walmart, for instance, stores will be limited to 20% of the usual capacity, the company announced, calling it a “reinvented” Black Friday experience. Shoppers will be required to form a single-file line before stores open at 5 a.m. on the Friday after Thanksgiving and follow directional signs to avoid others while shopping.
Customers can also pick up their online Black Friday orders at the curbside or receive deliveries at home. Walmart will offer many deals online at the beginning of November and roll out new prices throughout the month. The official Black Friday sales start on the day before Thanksgiving and continue after Thanksgiving, though the stores will be closed on Thanksgiving this year.
“We’ve been very thoughtful as we planned this year’s event. By spreading deals out across multiple days and making our hottest deals available online, we expect the Black Friday experience in our stores will be safer and more manageable for both our customers and our associates,” Scott McCall, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer for Walmart U.S., said in a statement.
Many major retailers are starting holiday discounts earlier this year, according to Bloomberg News. More consumers are shopping online due to concerns about health and safety.
In September, Home Depot and other retailers announced that Black Friday deals would stretch out for two months, according to CNBC. Best Buy, Target, and Kohl’s are also starting promotions earlier than in previous years and plan to close on Thanksgiving Day.
“This year more than ever, a joyful holiday will be inseparable from a safe one, and we’re continuing to adjust our plans to deliver ease, value and the joy of the season,” Brian Cornell, CEO of Target, said in a statement earlier this year.
“Let’s face it: Historically, deal hunting and holiday shopping can mean crowded events, and this isn’t a year for crowds,” he said.