It’s not an official holiday, but Black Friday has become a mainstay in the U.S. It’s an annual tradition for many which marks the beginning of Christmas shopping.
Schools, many companies, and some state and federal offices are closed both on Thanksgiving and Black Friday to give their employees a four-day weekend.
Retailers in the past have used Black Friday sales to boost their profits for the year by offering special buys, hard-to-get items and even deep discounts on specific products to entice shoppers.
From waiting in line overnight to having a strategy for shopping, customers have tackled Black Friday madness in different ways.
According to the History Channel, the first use of “Black Friday” was not actually used as reference to shopping but instead to financial crisis. The U.S. gold market crashed in September 1869.
As for retailers, a common but believed to be inaccurate story regarding Black Friday is that they would operate for a year at a loss – or “in the red” – while sales at Thanksgiving would push them back “in the black.”
Regardless of the history of Black Friday, the fact is it’s almost here.
But this year isn’t like any other year because of the COVID-19 crisis.
So what are retailers doing in response to the pandemic?
Many stores have shifted sales to online events. Some are still doing in-person sales, and many are doing both.
Stephanie Warden, of Desloge, goes Black Friday shopping with her husband Chris each year. Chris has been blogging their trips for about five years. He makes comical posts which have included videos and songs in the past.
As for Black Friday shopping this year, Warden said she wishes she could shop but she is quarantined until Saturday.
The past few months have been hectic for Warden. She is a school nurse and is in charge of COVID-related issues regarding the students. As a result, she has not had the time to invest in shopping this year like past years.
“I’ve not had the time to put forth effort with Black Friday deals this year because I’m too busy with all the COVID stuff at work,” she said, “and Black Friday is so weird this year.”
She said retailers have already started deals to spread them out to reduce crowds and increase online sales.
“I just feel like most of my shopping will be done online this year,” said Warden.
She prefers to shop in store because she likes to see what she’s getting and not have to wait for the item to arrive in the mail.
“It’s the thrill of the sale, too,” she said, “and I love to get a good deal.”
In fact, if she finds a better deal somewhere, she buys the item at that store and then returns the higher-priced item.
“It literally drives me insane to know I could’ve bought the same product for cheaper elsewhere,” she said. “I have a problem for sure!”
Warden said her three children – Mercedes, Chase and Tenley – have not asked for anything “big” this year.
“No Apple Watch, no Air Pods, no game systems … it’s weird,” she said. “I’m struggling to figure out what to get them this year.”
She’s hoping they can still surprise the kids with something not on their lists.
Chris and Stephanie already purchased new phones for themselves and will be receiving Walmart gift cards because it was an early Black Friday deal.
The couple started shopping Black Friday sales when they first got married about 16 years ago.
Steve and Andrea Pruett, of Terre Du Lac, have always shopped Black Friday deals. This year, however, is one time when they won’t be participating. They both are recovering from COVID-19 and are opting out of shopping over the Thanksgiving weekend.
Lisa Wigger, always prefers to do her shopping online. In fact, she estimates that she shops about 98% online instead of in the stores, although she has about three favorite places she frequently visits in-person.
Wigger said she’s finished Christmas shopping for this year. She did find some of her items through early online Black Friday sales.
Although she said she will look at some stores’ Black Friday sales, she doesn’t have any intention of purchasing things.
Wigger said she’s always been an “early Christmas shopper.” However, she shopped and finished this year earlier simply because of all the unknowns such as COVID-19. She was concerned if she or family members were to be diagnosed with coronavirus, then that would affect their holiday shopping.
“Christmas is a huge deal at our house and I always work hard to make it special,” she said, “and I wanted to be prepared.”
Wigger was able to score big-ticket items on Amazon during Prime Days and from Target on pre-Black Friday sales. She purchased a gaming chair for her son, mini Keurig for her brother, drill for her dad and several things her two daughters wanted.
“I have nothing left on my list to get,” she said, “and it’s even wrapped!”
Wigger said she felt out of control this year with COVID and all the serious health issues some of her relatives had experienced during 2020.