Black Friday has traditionally been the holiday shopping extravaganza of the year, but things quickly changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As life seemingly crawls back to normal, here’s what Black Friday 2021 has in store.
Black Friday sales have already begun
Black Friday sales aren’t reserved just for the Friday after Thanksgiving anymore. Many national retailers have already begun their holiday deals like Walmart, Amazon, Target and Kohl’s.
According to the National Retail Federation, nearly 50% of consumers have already begun their holiday shopping.
“Black Friday stopped being a one-day event years ago, and this year some consumers started shopping for Christmas as early as Halloween,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a release.
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For instance, Walmart began their “Deals for Days” online event on Monday Nov. 22 at 4 p.m. Their in-store deals will not drop until Black Friday.
Other big box stores like Target and Kohl’s have also already begun their Black Friday specials.
And shoppers are eager to pick up these deals. With looming supply chain issues and postal service backups, many have already begun their holiday shopping to ensure everyone has a present under the tree.
“With all the sales, why not go ahead and start early?” Mount Dora shopper Jackie Lozinski said. “A lot of them have guarantees that it will be the lowest price or they will match it. It makes shopping easier since I don’t have to do it all in one day.”
Stores are closed on Thanksgiving
Many retailers are taking the time out and closing their doors on Thanksgiving day, gearing up for the Black Friday event.
Target has announced that it will close for Thanksgiving Day, the second year in a row. They have also already begun their “Black Friday Now” events online.
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“We’re taking a completely new approach to Black Friday, giving guests more flexibility and ensuring they can plan ahead for a safe, stress-free shopping experience,” Target Executive Vice President and Chief Merchandising Officer Christina Hennington said in a news release. “We’re taking the guesswork out of holiday shopping.”
Other retailers that will close on Thanksgiving include Walmart, Belk, Kohl’s, Home Depot and Lowe’s.
Masks policies are more lax
Retail stores are back to full capacity and most do not require masks for those vaccinated, and suggest the use of masks for those who are not, as social distancing will most likely not be possible during peak shopping hours.
Nearly 2 million more people than last year are expected to shop between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday nationwide, according to the National Retailers Federation.
Walmart has issued a statement saying that all associates will be required to wear a face mask and customers are encouraged to do so as well, regardless of vaccination status. Others have similar policies in effect as well.
Holiday sales expected to exceed last year
According to the National Retail Federation, this season is poised to break holiday retail records as 2021 sales are estimated between $843.3 billion and $859 billion. A recent survey forecasts that sales from November to December will grow between 8.5% and 10.5% compared to 2020 sales.
“Florida shoppers are delighted to spend time with family and friends this holiday season,” shares Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. “Our retailers are ready and here to help you have the best shopping experience as you browse for gifts, decorations and everything you need for your holiday celebrations. We encourage shoppers to Find it in Florida when gearing up for the holidays.”
Retailers still pushing online shopping
During the pandemic, online shopping gained even more prominence, but retailers expect to see a shift back to in-store this year. Still, a recent survey from the National Retail Federation shows that 57% of people still prefer to holiday shop online only.
Another option for consumers is the in-store pick-up option. Many retailers offer online shopping with a quick pick-up in-store to help cut down on the horde of people racing to get the last toaster.
This article originally appeared on Daily Commercial: What to know about Black Friday: Sales, masks, Thanksgiving closings and more