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COVID-19 changes holiday shopping

After months of surging online sales, continued need for social distancing, and years of increased excitement for Cyber Monday deals, will this year lack the busy Black Friday tradition?

Many analysts see Amazon’s Prime Day sales as a hint to what Black Friday and Cyber Monday might look like. The company reports nearly doubling their profits during the pandemic. Leaping from $2.6 billion this time last year to $5.2 billion in net profits this year. But beyond the numbers, there are still safety concerns leaving many shoppers curious how their favorite spots will prepare for busy holiday hype.

Many retailers continue to take social distancing seriously and provide alternative options for customers to avoid busy lines and crowded sales floors. Major shops from Best Buy to Banana Republic offer same day curbside pickup options for online orders. However, this still leaves shoppers questioning what measures stores plan to take to ensure safety and crowd control. As an added COVID-19 safety measure HomeGoods and Trader Joe’s use capacity counters outside of their doors. Some retailers such as Kohl's organize Black Friday shoppers with lines outside despite chilly November temperatures. Regardless of precautions taken, the usual Christmas chaos may be too much for some shoppers this year.

Black Friday hype has dwindled down year after year according to the National Retail Federation. Reports from 2019 show that more shoppers preferred Cyber Monday deals over actual sales floors. 142.2 million completed holiday shopping online, while 124 million shopped in store. For some, this option seems like the safest and easiest method of marking off gift lists. However, Black Friday was still the busiest day for physical stores in 2019 with 84.2 million crowding customers. Only time will tell which path people will ultimately take.

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