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To avoid the tightly bunched crowds and accommodate for a socially distanced Black Friday this year, retail stores have stressed online deals more than ever this month, and there are a few things people should be aware of while shopping in stores or online for the remainder of this holiday season.

Last year CNBC News reported that stores nationwide have seen a steady decline of in-store foot traffic over the past few years, due to the growing popularity of online shopping amongst American consumers. This year retailers are offering more online deals than ever before, to give people the endless opportunity to save safely in the comfort of their own homes, during what CNN is calling a record-breaking fall surge of Covid-19 cases in the US.

The hustle and bustle of holiday shopping started at the dawn of November, with Black Friday online sales events beginning just the week after Halloween. Holiday shoppers were urged to start their Christmas shopping a month before December.

Walmart’s Black Friday Deals for Days event was stretched to last the entire 4 weeks of November. With three different online sales events that were scattered throughout the month, the third and final sale is set to kick off at 9 p.m, with in-store shopping starting at 5 a.m on Nov 27, the day right after Thanksgiving.

Black Friday in-store deals used to always start the actual Friday after Thanksgiving, and for years retailers have continued to ease the shopping spree into Thanksgiving day, forcing their employees to ditch family dinners for the busiest retail shopping day of the year.

July 21, 2020, Walmart Press Release stated that their stores’ doors would be closed on Thanksgiving Day for the first time since the 1980s.

“We know this has been a trying year, and our associates have stepped up. We hope they will enjoy a special Thanksgiving Day at home with their loved ones,” Walmart president and CEO John Furner said.

Target and Best Buy are a couple of the other two main retail destinations for in-store Black Friday shopping that also boosted their online deals this year, after confirming their doors would be closed on Thanksgiving day to give their employees time to cherish with their families.

Target customers were given the chance to preview the retailer’s Black Friday Deals Now online sales ad as early as October, which is the earliest people have ever been able to access and purchase items discounted for Black Friday, and like Walmart’s online shopping spree Target also started offering their final online sales on Nov 22 all the way through the 28.

“Our completely new approach to Black Friday is giving guests the flexibility to safely get the best holiday deals on their own terms,” Target’s executive vice president Christina Hennington said, in a Nov 23, 2020, Target Press Release.

Online shopping has definitely created a reliable alternative for holiday shoppers, but retailers are still taking the necessary precautions to ensure the families who plan to continue shopping in stores are safe. At the front of every store in Los Angeles County, bold signs warn customers that they will be unable to enter without a proper face covering.

“I’m excited to see the new and creative ways families will find to connect safely for the holidays during the pandemic,” Conferinta Garcia, a West Covina Target team member said.

The first and most useful tip for people shopping in stores during this holiday season is to have multiple masks in the car, just in case one falls off and gets lost while rushing to hold that first spot in line.

People should also avoid crowds as best as they can this year, but if someone is not as lucky, they should especially know what is on their families’ Christmas lists ahead of time, to limit the overall amount of time shopping inside of a store.

For the people choosing to do the majority of their shopping on the internet, it is highly advised to always be aware of scandalous websites. Before attempting to embark on a shopping adventure online make sure to be on the actual Walmart, Target, Best Buy or any retailers legit website. Do not respond to spam emails or free gift-card pop-ups on internet games.

The key to successfully shopping online is being quick and ready for the event sale. If a sale drops online at midnight make sure to be absolutely ready and in front of the computer screen, with all the sale items already picked out for purchase. So when the clock strikes 12:00 there won’t be anything left to do but press the purchase button. Items always sell out very quickly after just a few minutes from the online sale’s initial kick-off time.

On the bright side, this year’s pandemic has allowed holiday shoppers the opportunity to access great deals for the entire month, in addition, retail employees also get to take the entire day of Thanksgiving off to spend with loved ones, at a time when love is needed the most.

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