With the Thanksgiving holiday rapidly approaching, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released guidance to the American public on how to best mitigate the spread of coronavirus while still participating in holiday traditions.
One of the higher-risk activities during the holiday season? Black Friday shopping, according to the CDC.
The agency lists “going shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving” as one of the activities to avoid this season, along with “participating or being a spectator at a crowded race” (many turkey trots nationwide have been canceled or are being held as "virtual races").
The CDC also specifically recommends that consumers shop “online rather than in person on the day after Thanksgiving or the next Monday.”
In order to comply with CDC guidance, major retailers from Amazon to Walmart are amending their Black Friday events to be COVID-friendly. Some have extended their shopping hours; others have added more days and gone completely virtual to comply with local regulations, while some have cancelled Black Friday altogether.
Here is a running list of the major retailers who have changed their Black Friday events to mitigate the spread of COVID:
Slightly different than an average brick-and-mortar retailer, Amazon has already revealed a slew of deals that will go online for its extended Black Friday beginning Nov. 20.
The company will offer the deals on a rolling basis every day until Nov. 27.
“We’re continuing the season of savings and dropping Black Friday deals every day through the 27th, so customers can continue to shop early and save big on the season’s hottest gifts,” the company says on their Black Friday page.
Some of the biggest deals will be on Amazon products including the Echo, Amazon Fire Stick TV, and more.
The company is also extending its return deadline – products purchased between now and Dec. 31 can be returned by Jan. 31, 2021 for free.
While the company has been offering sales since mid-October in an effort to counter Amazon’s Prime Day deals, the real deals begin on Nov. 22.
Best Buy customers should countdown to Sunday, when the company plans to cut prices on many of its popular tech items including TVs, headphones, video games, and more.
In order to encourage customers to shop online, Best Buy will offer both curbside pickup and same-day delivery for Black Friday and other holiday orders. The company is also limiting in-person capacity at its stores across the country on Nov. 27.
As per Costco’s standard policy, the warehouse chain will be closed on Thanksgiving Day. The store revealed its holiday discounts in its November catalogue, including those for the week leading up to Black Friday.
The company recently updated their store policies requiring customers to wear masks, but have not released guidance specifically for Black Friday.
The appliance store has a simple approach to Black Friday shopping: deals typically reserved for the day after Thanksgiving are available online and in-store now through December.
In keeping with their usual practice, Home Depot will be closed on Thanksgiving.
Like many of its competitors, Kohl’s announced it will not open its physical storefronts on Thanksgiving day. The clothing store is also rolling out a series of online sales in the weeks leading up to Nov. 22, which will include additional Kohl’s cash with each purchase.
Starting on Sunday, Kohl’s will kick off its Black Friday Week, offering new deals every day – with some exclusive sales only available online.
For those shopping in-store, Kohl’s is implementing increased safety measures including social distancing markers, touchless payment options, and a mask requirement. The storefronts will reopen at 5 a.m. local time on Black Friday.
Kohl’s says it has tens of thousands of items on its website available for curbside pickup. The retailer doubled the number of drive-up parking spaces at its store locations to support increased demand.
Unlike many of its competitors, REI’s stores are not participating in Black Friday. Continuing a six-year-long tradition, the retailer is closing its 167 locations and paying its more than 13,000 employees to spend time outdoors on Nov. 27.
In a statement, company executives said the tradition is more important than ever given “the pandemic, a contentious election season and widespread civil unrest.”
“In the middle of everything, we have watched as people all over the world – some of them for the first time – looked to time outside to reflect, restore and connect to one another,” REI CEO Eric Artz wrote in an open letter. “In this year of unprecedented challenges staying true to our purpose, living our values and caring for our people and communities is more important than ever.”
Artz further called on REI employees to practice social distancing and good hygiene to mitigate the spread of coronavirus in the holiday season.
In a major departure from past years, Target announced that it will not open early on Black Friday, instead operating at its normal hours. The company previously announced it would close altogether on Thanksgiving day.
In order to help control the size of crowds, Target also rolled out a “Save Your Spot” feature, where customers can check the length of a line outside any given store and reserve their spot. The company is also expanding its curbside pickup options.
The company rolled out its “Black Friday Now” ad on Nov. 1, where customers can preview the weekly deals the company offers throughout the months. Each week of sales has a different theme, beginning with kitchenware and moving on through electronics and apparel.
Walmart was among the first of the major chains to announce it would spread out its traditional one-day Black Friday deals over three weekends in November in an effort to reduce crowds in its stores during a pandemic.
In early October, Walmart said more of its doorbuster deals will be reserved for online, as a way to steer more shoppers away from its stores.
The discounter, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, kicked off said deals online Nov. 4, with new deals in stores on Nov. 7. The second event began online Nov. 11, followed by a similar sales event in stores Nov. 14. It will wrap up its discounts online Nov. 25 with new discounts in stores Nov. 27, the day after Thanksgiving and the traditional Black Friday.
Walmart is limiting the number of customers inside its stores to 20% of the store’s capacity during the three big store events, as it had during the early phase of the pandemic. The stores open at 5 a.m. during the three Black Friday events.
For the first time, the discounter will also offer shoppers curbside pickup at its stores for Black Friday orders. Walmart will not open their doors on Thanksgiving Day this year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.