Is online the way to go?

Large retailers are finding ways to minimize large crowds as they plan 2020 Black Friday sales

Like most people these days (I would hope), large retailers are trying to avoid large crowds when it comes to Black Friday shopping. COVID-19 has forced stores to completely rethink plans for the crucial holiday shopping season. Large retailers like Macy’s, Target and Walmart are planning to push most shoppers online to avoid contact in stores. However, this doesn’t mean they aren’t inviting people into their stores with their deals. Many stores are promoting “Black Friday deals for days”. For example, Target is planning deals online and in stores for the entire month of November. I give props to the stores for not having their usual sales that consisted of a single day or night of deals. Imagine herds of people fighting and stepping on others to get to newly released technology, shoes or toys during a pandemic. That sounds like a nightmare to me. 

Walmart, in particular, has launched plans for sales over three weekends that will begin on its website and then move into stores a few days later. Walmart says that shoppers that go into their stores won’t experience the same craziness of the past years. They say they will give customers sanitized shopping carts, workers will be stationed at entrances to remind customers to keep their masks on and social distancing will be enforced with one-way aisles. 

Yes, they are putting out these guidelines, but I’ve learned, people don’t always follow them even when they are asked to. I’m sure many of us have witnessed people who wear their masks under their nose in stores or more crowded areas and I’ll be honest—I’ve gone down aisles the wrong way in my local Jewel-Osco a couple of times. The rules are good ideas, but it’s not realistic, not everyone is going to abide by them. 

Additionally, online sales have become increasingly popular in the last couple of years even before a pandemic struck our country. According to the Commerce Department, in 2019, shoppers spent more than $600 billion online which was up nearly 15% from the previous year. Of course, much of the online profit has come from Amazon. According to Vox, Amazon produced record sales during the middle of the pandemic. Essentially, the pandemic has transformed Amazon from a popular convenient shopping site to an essential service as many people are stuck home due to stay-at-home orders. Amazon recently released their Holiday Dash event which will consist of a month long sale of the site’s top picks. 

Overall, I think stores are trying to do the right thing, but I still think more sales should be online especially because of the rise in Covid-19 cases. At the end of the day, shopping in stores during Black Friday for deals is at your own risk.