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Money Making Sense: Shopping Black Friday during a pandemic

SALT LAKE CITY — Shopping in large crowds, shoulder-to-shoulder, awaiting the doors to burst open so you can rush to get your hands on the hottest deals during a pandemic when social distancing and masks are required — sounds like Black Friday may look different this year.

Instead of offering the hottest deals of the Christmas shopping season on just one day, retailers are encouraging more online shopping by stretching those sizzling offers over weeks.

Holiday shopper extraordinaire Holly Barraclough explained where to look for deals this year if you aren’t doing the traditional Black Friday shopping rush.  She also discussed with host Heather Kelly a big change this year regarding when stores will actually open for the largest shopping day of the year. 

Restoring Thanksgiving

Heather said she was really turned off by Black Friday when major retailers started moving their opening times earlier in the day. First moving from 3 a.m. Friday to midnight and then back even further into Thanksgiving Day itself to the point where some stores were opening at 3 in the afternoon on the holiday.

Heather said she thought the only good thing to come out of the pandemic is most big box stores have moved back the clock and won’t encroach on Thanksgiving. That way, they won’t begin Black Friday until it’s actually Friday.

Barraclough said she agreed it was a small silver lining to the pandemic and added that she thought stores opening on Thanksgiving takes away some of the thrill of Black Friday. She also said she felt bad for the employees who had to work on the holiday instead of being with their families.

Barraclough said the major retailers, which traditionally launched mega weekend sales starting Thanksgiving Day, will close this year on the holiday (N0v. 26). They are: Target, Best Buy, Kohl’s and Walmart, which owns Sam’s Club, and Macys. She strongly suggested those who are interest in more details about Black Friday this year, click here. Also closed on Turkey Day are Dick’s Sporting Goods and JC Penney.

“It’s the first time Walmart has been closed on Thanksgiving Day in more than 30 years,” Barraclough said.

“If they really love their employees, they wouldn’t have waited for a pandemic,” Heather replied. 

Shop local on Black Friday

Heather asked Barraclough what shoppers can do to help local small businesses and boutiques, which may have just barely survived the pandemic.

Barraclough did some research to find some small businesses are planning both curbside pickup and appointment shopping to reduce shoppers’ anxiety of entering a brick-and-mortar store during the pandemic. It will also save on the cost of shipping shoppers’ purchases.

Heather pointed out that customers can also help small businesses by shopping on Small Business Saturday (Nov. 28). The holiday falls on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, one day after Black Friday and two days before Cyber Monday.

“Black Friday shopping like we know it is officially over because of COVID-19,” Barraclough said. “People [big box stores] are starting their sales now. Target deals are going on currently as we speak.”

Barraclough said Walmart is beginning its big deals called Deals for Days online, which began Nov. 4, to help reduce the crush of shoppers swarming their entrances of the big box stores and to aid in social distancing.

“Retailers are working to reinvent black Friday during the pandemic,” she said.

Both Heather and Barraclough advised shoppers to mail their holiday gifts early to avoid a mailing and shipping bottleneck in the US this year.