COVID-19, online shopping leads to a much quieter Black Friday

MADISON, Wis. — Black Friday has seen fewer lines in recent years due to the rise of online shopping, but with the COVID-19 pandemic this year, the traditional start to the holiday shopping season is looking even more different.

About 60% of holiday shopping is expected to be done online this year, but experts at the National Retail Federation expect overall sales to be between 3.6% and 5.2% higher in November and December this year than they were last year. The Better Business Bureau says that’s because deals won’t be limited to just a few days this year.

“We’re going to be seeing deals not only on Black Friday this year, but we’re going to be seeing them all month long,” said Tiffany Berhardt Schultz of the BBB. “Those doorbusters that you get on Black Friday, retailers are preparing to spread those out so more shoppers can come out and get them in a socially distanced way.”

Some chains like Walmart already started their holiday deals earlier in November. Other retailers have bulked up staffing to handle curbside and delivery orders to meet that anticipated demand.

The BBB says people shouldn’t be afraid to ask stores, especially local shops, about their different shopping options. Those questions include whether a store restricts the number of shoppers in the store at one time, if they have times that aren’t as busy and crowded, or if they’re set up for curbside transactions.

If you’re shopping online, the BBB says their usual warnings about scammers using fake websites to steal your personal information still apply. They also recommend you use a credit card instead of a debit card when shopping online, since credit cards offer greater fraud protection and you won’t be on the hook for any fraudulent charges.