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Black Friday will be different during COVID-19 pandemic

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch
Black Friday shoppers walk into the Springettsbury Township Best Buy location. Amanda J. Cain photo

This year, more consumers will be opting out of a traditional Black Friday experience in light of new COVID-19 restrictions to mitigate the spread of the pandemic, officials said. 

In lieu of long lines and frenzied customers hurdling to snag the best deals, more shoppers will instead do more shopping online or utilize curbside pickup services, said Kevin Schreiber, the president and CEO of the York County Economic Alliance.

"This is a big month for our retailers," Schreiber said. "I am certain that there will be more people hesitant to physically go into the stores."

Though online shopping has become a well-established method for consumers to purchase products safely throughout  the pandemic, Schreiber doesn't doubt traditional storefront shopping won't be popular, too. 

Many large retail chains, including Target, Walmart, Kohl's and Best Buy will be open for in-person shopping on Friday. For years, the Friday following Thanksgiving has been a significant shopping event, kicking off the Christmas retail season. 

All businesses big and small, however, have made changes to store policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including installing plexiglass barriers at counters, making masks mandatory and introducing new services such as curbside pickup, Schreiber said. 

"Most retailers have begun to make adaptations to meet the market demands," Schreiber said. "By and large, consumers have also adapted to the protocols."

At Walmart, for example, new protocol was introduced for Black Friday shopping, including limiting the number of customers inside the store at a single time and encouraging curbside pickup for products ordered online.

"We’ll ask customers to form a single, straight line to enter the store. Look out for associates handing out sanitized shopping carts and health ambassadors who will be at entrances to greet you and remind you to put on a mask," according to Black Friday shopping information on Walmart's website.

Like many industries, retail has been "hit hard" by COVID-19, according to Schreiber. 

Over time, however, retail stores have been able to adapt to new changes through online sales or pickup services to gain revenue.

While  consumers might opt out of traditional Black Friday shopping, Schreiber said he's hopeful consumers will instead shop differently and support local businesses.

"Every little bit helps right now. For any amount of money that isn't being spent invested in the local economy, that certainly has a ripple effect," Schreiber said. "This year will certainly be a test."

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.