HOLLAND — The writing has been on the wall for Black Friday since the invention of Amazon.

Black Friday

Black Friday will look much different this year due to COVID-19.

Traditionally, the sales blitz takes place the Friday after Thanksgiving, offering steep discounts to shoppers willing to line up early and brave the crowds. That tradition has lengthened over the years to include stores opening as early as Thanksgiving Day. Amid fist fights and overwhelmed employees, some retailers chose to make Black Friday a week-long event, saving the best deals for Friday.

But in the age of COVID-19, some experts believe Black Friday, as we know it, is dead.

According to a recent survey from Google on consumer behavior this holiday season, 62 percent of U.S. shoppers will start their shopping early to avoid items being out of stock.

The survey also found more shoppers will seek deals online than ever before.

“As many states have paused or reversed their reopening plans, U.S. shoppers are reverting to the safety of online shopping,” the study says. “This year, 69 percent of U.S. shoppers plan to shop online for the holidays more than in previous years, with more people going online to browse and buy for the very first time.”

In response, chain stores have announced month-long deals and multi-faceted events created to encourage social distancing and online shopping.

For the first time in decades, Walmart will be closed on Thanksgiving Day. The same is true for Target, Best Buy and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

This year, the hottest deals for the holiday season will be available online to reduce crowds and eliminate the need to rush into a store.

The sales are also starting earlier than in past years and lasting longer to spread out demand in a season retailers say is unlike any other they have experienced.

Walmart unveiled in October that it will revamp its Black Friday sale by offering shoppers three chances to get the “best prices of the season” throughout November.

Walmart U.S. Executive Vice President and Chief Merchandising Officer Scott McCall told USA Today that more online offers makes for a “safer and more convenient way to shop” and helps manage in-store traffic.

Lowe’s began its “Season of Savings” sale in late October and will continue through Dec. 2.

“When it comes to going into the physical stores, we are not going to create a situation where there is a time sensitivity that would create crowd situations,” Lowe’s Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Marisa Thalberg told USA Today. “That is irresponsible in our current environment.”

In a holiday survey from Affirm, 70 percent of the 2,000 respondents said they are more likely to buy something on sale now, rather than waiting for the traditional Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals.

Between the competing ads, shifting hours and lengthened deals, the one thing consumers can safely assume is this: There’s probably a deal going on already. You just have to know where to look.

While Black Friday, in a traditional sense, has been nixed this year, local businesses are still preparing for Small Business Saturday under current safety restrictions. According to the Google survey, 66 percent of U.S. consumers who plan to shop this holiday season said they will shop more at local small businesses. Downtown Holland announced in early November that it will participate in Small Business Saturday on Nov. 28 with giveaways, promotions and a selfie contest.

(1) comment


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