Here’s how stores are changing Black Friday for the pandemic

Black Friday is officially Black November. Also parts of October. And December, too.

The shopping spectacular is getting a pandemic-induced makeover, with many major retailers starting their sales earlier than ever and ending them later. Companies are hoping to avoid the crush of customers that crowd stores on the Friday after Thanksgiving by giving them more buying, pickup and delivery options.

This year, the Black Friday deals that are usually reserved for in-store shopping will appear online during the month. Nearly 51% of shoppers feel anxious about shopping in-store during the holidays and 64% of their budget is expected to be spent online, according to a new shopping survey from Deloitte.

“Black Friday has definitely transitioned more into a digital affair in the past five years,” said Neil Saunders, retail analyst and managing director at GlobalData Retail, previously told CNN Business. “The focal point is not that single day anymore. It’s an event spread out over several days.”

And those who are brave (or crazy) enough to hit the stores on Black Friday will notice enhanced safety protocols and capacity controls.

Here’s how major US retailers changed their Black Friday plans this year:

Best Buy

“As we’ve said, Black Friday isn’t just one day this year — it’s months long,” Best Buy said in a statement.

That’s true: Some Best Buy deals became available online in October with more deals going live in stores on November 1. On select days, Best Buy shoppers can get deeper discounts from its Black Friday ad early via its website, with the first event beginning November 5.

Stores will open at 5 am on Black Friday with the retailer still requiring shoppers to wear face coverings. It’s also enforcing capacity controls and there will be a “dedicated customer experience host” to help direct shoppers and answer questions.

Contactless curbside pickup and expanded same-day delivery will also be available.

Home Depot

Home Depot will offer discounts online and in stores from November 6 through December 2.

The retailer recently said it decided to “reinvent” Black Friday this year to reduce stress for consumers who typically rush to stores in droves to grab the best deals. Given the pandemic, the company indicated that maintaining safety was also a factor in its decision.

Home Depot gave its app users advance access earlier this week to some of the discounts.

Lowe’s

Loyal customers will see an expanded selection of items, with the company selling more home goods, exercise equipment and other items people wouldn’t normally associate with the home improvement retailer.

Lowe’s “Season of Savings” already began last week — its earliest start date ever. The Black Friday-like event includes “competitive deals in-store and online” through December.

One notable addition this year: Free delivery of fresh-cut trees and wreaths on orders more than $45.

Macy’s

Black Friday sales at the department store will begin online and in stores beginning November 4.

On the day after Thanksgiving itself, Macy’s said shoppers can “expect to shop those same deals safely in-store” with additional cleaning, employees wearing personal protection equipment and “occupancy checks with an emphasis on traffic flow to anticipate and mitigate crowds.”

Macy’s is also promoting curbside pickup, buy-online-pick-up in store and same-day delivery through DoorDash.

Target

Deals will be sold online and in stores for the entire month of November in a promotion called “Black Friday Now.” Target will offer “weeklong discounts and digital deals every day” beginning on November 1. It’s also extending its price-match policy from two weeks after the purchase date to two months.

Target is also bolstering its safety features at its stores — including contactless payment in its app, reducing lines by having employees rove the store to let customers pay and letting shoppers make reservations.

Walmart

America’s largest retailer is spreading Black Friday sales over three weekends, which will begin on its website before hitting stores a few days later. “Black Friday Deals for Days” encompasses the first, second and fourth weekends of November, with the deals appearing online Wednesdays.

Although it’s pushing people to shop online and use its curbside pickup option, shoppers that go to its stores won’t experience the pandemonium of the past. Instead, they will form single-file lines at the entrance and be given sanitized shopping carts. “Health Ambassadors” will be stationed at entrances to remind people to put on their masks. Social distancing will be enforced inside with capacity controls and one-way lanes.

Walmart said the changes at its stores “will be safer and more manageable for both our customers and our associates.”

This content was republished with permission from CNN.

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