How to Stay Safe on Black Friday amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

Hanna Flanagan
·12 min read

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This year has brought many changes to how we celebrate big occasions like weddings and holidays. As cases of COVID-19 continue to soar throughout the country and Americans are being urged to stay home this Thanksgiving, people will have to reconsider how to participate in another November pastime — shopping on Black Friday.

Large crowds of aggressive bargain hunters is no longer a safe place for savvy shoppers amid the global pandemic. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), shopping in crowded stores is considered a high-risk activity and should be avoided this holiday season to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. Instead, it recommended in its Holiday Celebrations and Small Gatherings Guidelines that shoppers take advantage of Cyber Monday deals and buy online rather than in person on Black Friday.

In its Thanksgiving guidance released on Thursday, the CDC also suggested shoppers consider curbside pickup and contactless services or shop in open air markets, staying 6-feet away from others while wearing a mask.

For those who decide to shop in-store this year, the CDC recommends standard precautions: wear a face masks covering your mouth and nose at all times, washing your hands often and keeping a safe distance from other people.

According to RetailMeNot, while 61% of retailers plan to offer more discounts than usual do due to the economic challenges in America, it also reports that 88% of people will not shop the traditional in-store deals this holiday season.

To help you have the safest shopping experience, we asked major retailers for their holiday season plans. Many are extending Black Friday sales, offering curbside pickup and monitoring the flow of customers in stores. Below, find out what protocols are in place for customers and staffers before you shop on Black Friday.

Target

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After implementing new in-store safety measures in March, Target rolled out a second set of guidelines — including contactless self-checkout, pre-trip shopping reservations and 1,000 more MyCheckout devices that allow team members to check out guests anywhere in the store — ahead of Black Friday.

“Enhancements to our same-day services include doubling the total number of Drive Up spots, enhancing the Drive Up experience to eliminate barcode scanning and expanding our same-day assortment so guests can receive everything they need for gifting and holiday meals through our contactless fulfillment options,” the retailer tells PEOPLE.

To ensure shoppers are staying a safe 6-feet apart on Black Friday, Target launched a website feature that allows customers to check if there is a line outside their local store and reserve a spot if so. “Target will then text the guest to notify them that it is their turn to enter the store,” the company explains.

Like many of its competitors, Target kicked off Black Friday deals earlier than ever this year to give shoppers more flexibility amid the pandemic. Additionally, “nearly all of Target’s 'Black Friday Now' deals are available for an entire week, both in stores and on Target.com,” the retailer says.

Adding, “Nearly all 'Black Friday Now' deals are available via Target’s contactless same-day Drive Up and Order Pickup services, and more deals than ever can be received via same-day delivery with Shipt. And offering guests assurance that they can count on Target for the greatest deals regardless of when they shop, all 'Black Friday Now' deals qualify for Target’s extended Price Match Guarantee.”

Visit Target.com for a closer look at the "Black Friday Now" assortment, and stay tuned for even more holiday deals as part of its upcoming annual Cyber Week sale.

To learn more, visit corporate.target.com.

Kohl's

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The retail chain is offering Black Friday deals in stores and online, and making safety a priority with store drive up and contactless pay through the Kohl's app. In addition to guidelines that will remain in place throughout the holiday season (like mandatory masks for customers and associates and social distancing signage throughout every location), the department store will implement a second set of precautions in more than 1,160 stores during Black Friday Week.

Those include stanchions and social distancing markers placed at all store entrances to encourage social distancing on days with anticipated higher traffic. As well as having additional doors available for exit on select days to control traffic flow and encourage social distancing. Associate greeters will also be stationed at the front of the store to distribute sanitized carts, offer free masks to customers who do not have them, and limit occupancy, as appropriate.

To learn more, visit corporate.kohls.com.

Macy's

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The department store unveiled holiday deals on fashion, fine jewelry, tech, beauty, toys and home specials earlier than ever this year to help shoppers get a head start. Black Friday discounts are available to customers in stores (with most locations opening at 5 a.m.), as well as online and on the Macy’s app for those who want to avoid large crowds.

Customers who chose to shop in stores on Black Friday can expect enhanced health and safety standards, including additional cleaning during open hours, sanitation stations throughout all stores, company-issued protective wear for store colleagues and occupancy checks with an emphasis on traffic flow to anticipate and mitigate crowds.

The retailer is also offering contactless curbside pickup, a "buy online pick-up in store" option and same day delivery through DoorDash.

To learn more, visit macys.com.

TJ Maxx

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While the retailer doesn't have any special Black Friday promotions, it does have safety protocols in place at all U.S. stores. All associates and customers are required to wear masks while inside stores, and each location will follow health protocols, including enhanced cleaning regimens, protective shields at cash registers, occupancy limits and encouraging social distancing throughout stores.

To learn more, visit tjmaxx.com.

Walmart

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“The health and safety of our customers and associates is our top priority,” Walmart tells PEOPLE. So for the first time ever, the retail giant is offering contact-free curbside pickup for online Black Friday orders. As for in-store shopping, Walmart says it will utilize the same approach it did in the spring: limit customers to 20% capacity as needed.

Walmart will also implement new policies including “grab and go” merchandise (where each product is the same, like toys, bikes and small kitchen appliances, so customers can grab one and keep moving), no line queues at the front of the store and swift direction to the nearest exit after checking out. Customers will also continue to see safety procedures enforced throughout the rest of the year, including “mask requirements for shoppers and customers, plastic barriers at registers, social distancing floor decals and enhanced cleaning, including sanitized carts,” Walmart says.

To learn more, visit corporate.walmart.com.

Carter's Inc.

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All Carter’s, OshKosh B’gosh and Skip Hop store locations will be closed Thanksgiving Day and open on Friday, Nov. 27, a Carter's spokesperson tells PEOPLE. "In addition to following all CDC, WHO and local and state COVID-19 guidance, we have enhanced the shopping experience online, increased fulfillment options to make sure gifts arrive on time, and added convenient curbside and in-store pickup capabilities at more store locations."

The children's apparel retailer will kick off Black Friday deals early on Nov. 19 and recently launched a program that promotes new offers every day on carters.com and oshkosh.com called "Wonderful Deals."

"We are following all local and state guidelines as well as CDC and WHO guidance in our stores to safely serve our customers and protect the well-being of our Carter’s store teams," the spokesperson says. "In addition to more frequent cleaning, masks are required in our stores, and we request that all customers and associates practice social distancing. We also provide face masks and gloves for all employees; masks are also available for customers upon request. Specifically for Black Friday, we have extended store hours (6:00a.m. – 10:00p.m.) and offer curbside pickup."

To learn more, visit carters.com/pickup.

Dick’s Sporting Goods

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Much like its competitors, the sports gear and apparel retailers is offering Black Friday deals before the big event. “We recognize the holiday shopping season will be a different experience this year for our customers. One of the changes we’ve made this year is that we are offering some of our Black Friday deals over a 10-day period, starting November 18," Don Germano, Executive Vice President of Stores at Dick's Sporting Goods, tells PEOPLE.

The retailer is also implementing one-hour curbside contactless pickup and returns, in addition to the in-store safety and sanitation guidelines it rolled out in March, mobile checkout capabilities and the newly introduced Dick's Scan, Pay and Play app in select stores. As for in store capacity on Black Friday, Germano says numbers vary based on "local guidelines and the size and capacity limits at each store.”

To learn more, visit dickssportinggoods.com.

Best Buy

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Best Buy locations will open at 5 a.m. on Black Friday with a long list of safety precautions in place, including mandatory face coverings for customers and employees, limiting the number of customers in the store at one time and a host at the front of each store to help direct traffic and manage lines. In addition, the tech retailer will continue providing sanitizing wipes, performing daily wellness checks on employees and enforcing routine cleaning sessions.

Best Buy is also offering early savings this year, as well as contactless pickup, in-store pickup, same-day and next-day delivery options in an effort to make shopping as convenient and safe as possible. As for online bargain hunting, new experiences on bestbuy.com and on the Best Buy app allow customers to find great deals, chat with an expert and more.

"As an essential retailer, we are continually reviewing reputable, third-party data, CDC and local health department recommendations and direct feedback from our local store teams to guide decisions about the safest way to provide customers with the technology products they need to work, learn and eat at home. Rest assured, this rigorous approach will continue as long as COVID-19 is a reality in our lives," Best Buy's website states.

To learn more, visit corporate.bestbuy.com.

Ulta

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Chief Store Operations Officer of Ulta Beauty Kecia Steelman tells PEOPLE the beauty retailer is “proud to offer convenient, safe options for our guests to shop from in-store to curbside pickup, ulta.com and the Ulta Beauty app” on Black Friday, with most locations operating from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. for in-store shopping and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for contactless curbside pickup.

“We have great confidence in our Shop Safe Standards, a program enforced throughout 2020 that includes mandatory masks, contactless payment options, social distancing, increased cleaning, temperature screenings for associates and hand sanitizer throughout the store,” Steelman says. “We trust our guests will respect the protocols to keep themselves and each other safe, which we believe is a beautiful act.”

Ulta locations will also be operating at a limited capacity on Black Friday — 40 to 100 customers and associates at a time depending on the county and state — and says it will monitor official guidelines and track local COVID-19 prevalence closely as the number of cases continue to rise. “We’re prepared to act accordingly and do what’s right for the safety of our guests and associates,” Steelman says.

Still don’t want to risk bumping elbows with other customers? Shop Ulta’s Black Friday deals early in stores and online starting Nov. 22.

To learn more, visit ulta.com.

Home Depot

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For the first time ever, the home improvement retailer is offering extended sales from Nov. 6 through Dec. 2 both in stores and online rather than a one-day Black Friday event to ensure customers and employees are staying safe this year.

In store shoppers can expect a limited number of customers inside at one time, adjusted store hours, expanded curbside pickup, social distancing signage, floor markings, plexiglass safety shields and PA announcements reminding them to stay safe.

To learn more, visit corporate.homedepot.com.

Bed Bath & Beyond

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Bed Bath & Beyond has committed to making the shopping experience convenient and safe this year by launching a range of options like buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS), curbside pickup, and same day delivery according to a press release.

Cindy Davis, Executive Vice President and Chief Brand Officer of Bed Bath & Beyond, tells PEOPLE: "We’re making it as safe, easy and as convenient as possible for our customers to enjoy the present, and our incredible value and inspirational holiday collection this season. Our comprehensive store safety plan means customers can shop in store with confidence, and we’ve expanded the availability of contactless shopping options to make it even safer."

"We can have items ready to pick up in store or delivered straight to your trunk for curbside pickup in just a couple of hours, and if you need a last minute Thanksgiving roasting pan or essential gift for a loved one, we can even deliver direct to your home the day you order with our new Same Day Delivery service," she continued. "We’re also offering more ways to save across more days than ever before, including 25% off all in-store, buy-online-pickup-in-store and contactless curbside pickup orders on Black Friday, Nov. 27 and Nov. 28, as well as a $100 My Funds Rewards (valid for 30 days) for every $300 spent with us anyway you shop on Sunday, Nov. 29 and Cyber Monday, Nov. 30."

To learn more, visit bedbathandbeyond.com.