Black Friday marks the start of the holiday shopping season, but because of the pandemic, it's going to look a lot different this year.
In the past, big-name retailers like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy kicked off their Black Friday in-store deals on Thanksgiving. This year, because of COVID-19, those stores will be closed on the holiday and that's just one change we'll be seeing.
A lot of stores have been offering deep discounts online for a month or longer. Retail experts say the purpose of that is to try and cut down on the crowd sizes on Black Friday.
With COVID-19 spreading at an alarming rate, Milwaukee area store owners, Bruce Riley & Danielle Carter-Riley said they are sanitizing surfaces and encouraging social distancing at their two businesses at Mayfair Mall.
"We want to make sure customers feel safe within our space," said Riley, owner of Beaded Vision Jewelry and Wisconsin Curated Creations, an arts and handcrafted gift store.
On Black Friday, their stores will be open from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m.
"Before I even touch the customers' credit card, or any merchandise, just in front of them, I will sanitize my hands just so they know I am taking a precautionary action to make them feel safe and comfortable as well," Riley continued.
Riley said he has sneeze guards installed where customers check out and mask-wearing is required. To allow proper social distancing, and wife will allow thirty customers at a time into Wisconsin Curated Creations which is 8,500 square feet.
Over at Brookfield Square mall, hand sanitizers are set up in the common area, and shoppers are also required to wear face masks inside the mall. Also, occupancy inside the stores has been brought down, depending on the store's size.
"Most of our stores have the markers on the floor, which we're all getting used to, to show where you should wait in line," said Melissa Cavanagh, a mall spokesperson.
Cavanagh said stores in the mall have been running Black Friday for a week now.
"Shoppers can expect to see those sales last even beyond Black Friday. So, the stores are extending those deals and really giving shoppers some flexibility and when they can shop so that they don't have to come on Black Friday to get those sales," she said.
The Corners of Brookfield released the below statement outlining its plans to keep shoppers safe during Black Friday:
In anticipation of holiday shopping, The Corners of Brookfield has added 25 dedicated curbside pick-up parking spots around the Center for limited-exposure, expedited pick-up. Customers can call their desired store or order online, pull into the curbside pick-up spots designated with pink lines and numbered signs, provide the store with the numbered parking spot and an associate with bring the order out to the customers car. The Center is also encouraging and embracing omni-channel purchasing through retailers.
Individual retailers have capacity limits, stringent cleaning protocols, in-store expedited pick-up, and curbside pick-up options. Some stores, including Lululemon, offer a virtual waitlist as well.
The Center is conducting enhanced, hourly cleaning and disinfecting of common areas, storefront doors, bathrooms, tables/seating, stairwells, escalators and elevators.
Sanitizer stations are available in all common areas.
The number of security and housekeeping staff have been increased.
Informational signage and ground markings to help customers maintain a distance of six feet have been installed around the Center.