COVID-19

What will Black Friday be like this year?

Marielle Segarra Oct 14, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
HTML EMBED:
COPY
Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images
COVID-19

What will Black Friday be like this year?

Marielle Segarra Oct 14, 2020
Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Black Friday is a family tradition for Cassie Lawrence. She used to go in high school with her parents. They would show up at 4 a.m., bust down some doors and score some deals.

“The rush of everything was really fun,” Lawrence said. “It’s kind of a free for all, where you look at something, you see it’s a good deal, you see it’s in your size, there’s no time to try anything on,  you just throw it in your basket and go.”

Not this year, though. Lawrence doesn’t want to risk getting COVID — especially because she’s pregnant and due just before Thanksgiving.

“So I’ll probably be doing my shopping online and won’t be headed to the stores,” she said.

The CDC recently put out a list of low-, medium- and high-risk activities for the fall holidays. On the high-risk list? Shopping in crowded stores on Thanksgiving or the day after, Black Friday.

“Aggregating hundreds of people in the cold dark, outside of a store, waiting for the doors to open and then all rushing in and fighting over a limited supply of merchandise — even as a non-epidemiologist, that strikes me as a pretty bad idea,” said Joel Bines, a managing director at Alix Partners.

And so far, retailers have been signaling that this is not the kind of Black Friday they’re planning this year.  Major retailers like Target, Walmart, Kohl’s and Best Buy have decided to close on Thanksgiving this year.

They are trying to encourage people to shop earlier by offering Black Friday deals in October and November, accelerating a trend from recent years. They’re also trying to push people to shop online.

And “a lot of them are touting their curbside pickup as an option, really trying to do everything that they can to, to avoid that, you know, one-day crush,” said Casey Runyan, managing editor at the website Brad’s Deals.

Even so, it is possible that some diehard Black Friday enthusiasts will still show up this year.

“I would equate it to the diehard Chicago Cubs fans who are renting, you know, balconies across from the stadium because they’ve been to, you know, one Cubs game a year for 72 years and want to keep the streak alive,” Bines said. “There will be some of that. There will surely be some localized overcrowding.”

But he thinks most people will get the message: This Black Friday, shop online. And if you do come to the store, it’s best if you pick up your stuff at the curb.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

New COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. are on the rise. How are Americans reacting?

Johns Hopkins University reports the seven-day average of new cases hit 68,767 on Sunday  — a record — eclipsing the previous record hit in late July during the second, summer wave of infection. A funny thing is happening with consumers though: Even as COVID-19 cases rise, Americans don’t appear to be shying away from stepping indoors to shop or eat or exercise. Morning Consult asked consumers how comfortable they feel going out to eat, to the shopping mall or on a vacation. And their willingness has been rising. Surveys find consumers’ attitudes vary by age and income, and by political affiliation, said Chris Jackson, who heads up polling at Ipsos.

How many people are flying? Has traveled picked up?

Flying is starting to recover to levels the airline industry hasn’t seen in months. The Transportation Security Administration announced on Oct. 19 that it’s screened more than 1 million passengers on a single day — its highest number since March 17. The TSA also screened more than 6 million passengers last week, its highest weekly volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel is improving, the TSA announcement comes amid warnings that the U.S. is in the third wave of the coronavirus. There are now more than 8 million cases in the country, with more than 219,000 deaths.

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

Read More

Collapse

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.