Digging for Deals While Distancing

Photo courtesy of Treasure Coast Newspapers

Do you remember when the world wasn’t so crazy? When grown adults could camp out of a Walmart for days on end to buy the next iPhone for half of the price? After experiencing the ever-so hectic 2020, hoping to witness two customers punch each other out for a new television is on everyone’s list for pre-pandemic nostalgia. The one event that could bring this sense of normalcy back is right around the corner. Forget Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve, Black Friday is the holiday that could potentially rekindle the human spirit that has been smothered by social distancing protocols.

Yes, Black Friday is still on. The same holiday one associates with strange faces pressed up against a department store window and the occasional wrestling match for a Lego set will attempt to push through claims of it being a potential hotspot for COVID-19. According to USA Today, 36% of people surveyed said they were planning to go in-person for Black Friday, even with the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention’s remarks of these actions being high-risk for viral spread. 

How a Black Friday event will play out in today’s “new normal” will be a sight to see from many different areas of the country. California’s Black Friday will be completely different from states such as Arizona and Georgia. Yet, a growing national trend aims to be felt with the transition into online holiday deals. Although Black Friday might look different depending on the specific state’s regulations, there is one aspect to the shopping spree weekend that will remain the same. 

Many companies are utilizing Cyber Monday to their advantage. The retailing industry’s initial hangover from its Black Friday festivities became its new proposed business model, as the growing prominence of the Internet and smartphones could no longer be ignored. Why argue with an elderly woman over a Barbie doll when there’s a quicker and better deal on Target’s website?

Online Black Friday shopping has seen a dramatic increase of numbers recently. According to The Los Angeles Times, the Internet housed around 7 billion sales for the past year, marking an annual increase of near 20%. The projections made by Adobe estimate around another 3 billion to be added to those sales increases. Online shopping has helped businesses rake in annual Black Friday sale increase numbers from 3.6% to 5.2%. In a time where businesses are hurting from the impact of COVID-19, these reports keep hope alive.

 Local businesses around the country have used the reported trends toward online shopping to their advantage. According to Commercial Appeal, Memphis local clothing store, Falling Into Place, has since increased their online activity by 20% to adapt to the “new normal.” National powerhouses like Bed, Bath, & Beyond and Best Buy will be enforcing their COVID-19 protocols and utilizing tactics like curbside pickup and contactless orders in their handling of Black Friday, according to People. 

The question remains on whether these efforts to curb the potential consequences of a traditional Black Friday will actually work. With profits looking good during an economic collapse, will public health still take priority?  

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