Despite the many aspects of ordinary life being changed due to the pandemic, consumers and businesses alike saw firsthand on November 27th that Black Friday had become another victim to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 Black Friday event was shown to have been impacted by the pandemic through businesses being encouraged to change their Black Friday practices to avoid the mass gathering of people in public places as well as consumers seeming to have a vast change in their Black Friday consumption patterns due to the pandemic. Regardless of the circumstances from the 2020 Black Friday event individually, it is apparent to all that the impact from COVID-19 is far from over.
Black Friday has proved to be yet another victim of COVID-19 through businesses being widely encouraged to change their business practices for the event. Most companies kicked off Black Friday this year by promoting the holiday sales as early as October, making the event’s sales available well before the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Similarly, as opposed to previous years where consumers were encouraged to be physically present at stores to receive Black Friday deals, more companies this year have made online shopping with Black Friday deals more widely available to shoppers. Many speculate companies offered their Black Friday sales so early in advance and extended their deals to online shopping as an effort to avoid the mass gathering of consumers during the traditional Black Friday day. Similarly, stores changed their business practices by also eliminating the traditional practice of opening stores on Thanksgiving Day itself. This year, most of the major retail chains announced to the public that their stores will be closed for Thanksgiving and only open at 5am on Black Friday itself. Similar to the businesses changing their traditional Black Friday practices, consumers this year also displayed a change in the trend of Black Friday shopping as well.
Black Friday this year has proven that the public fear of COVID-19 is still vastly real in the eyes of consumers. As opposed to prior years, consumers were found to be less physically present in stores on Black Friday this year. This consumer behavior is possibly due to many citizens still having a fear of contracting the virus and being in public spaces due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This behavior could also be the effect due to stores making Black Friday sales more accessible online and in advance from just the holiday itself. Regardless of the cause and the low influx rate of consumers going into stores on Black Friday itself, the 2020 Black Friday proved to be a massive success, reaching record-breaking sales from previous years.
Although many aspects of traditional life have been impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic in a negative way, Black Friday seems to prove that there could also be positive outcomes due to the pandemic as well. Even in the week prior to Thanksgiving, data from Edison Trends found that online sales in the U.S. were up on a year-over-year basis by 167 percent at Target, 88 percent at Best Buy and 80 percent at Walmart—a record-breaking high for Black Friday sales as opposed to previous years. COVID-19 has caused much economic and regular public life changes, however the Black Friday changes seem to have a positive impact for consumers, businesses, and the economy alike. Despite there still being a long way to go to get normal life back to the way it previously was, Black Friday showed that potentially some business practices changed due to the pandemic should remain long after the pandemic is over. Maybe in the future, 2020 Black Friday will prove to be not a victim to the pandemic, but a noteworthy survivor.