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Five Tips for Navigating Black Friday Shopping During COVID-19

Let’s face it: Shopping on Black Friday is never easy, but amidst the coronavirus pandemic, it can seem downright impossible. “The CDC has told us that it’s risky to be within six feet of other people, so you are taking a risk joining the crowds,” says online shopping expert Michelle Madhok, founder of deals site SheFinds. “Additionally, shops have been limiting the number of people allowed inside, so you may find yourself lined up around the block in inclement weather.”

Patricia Meeden holding a remote control: tommaso79 / Getty Images

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a person holding a remote control: Ask your favorite stores about curbside pickup and online sales, as suggested by our shopping expert.

© tommaso79 / Getty Images
Ask your favorite stores about curbside pickup and online sales, as suggested by our shopping expert.

Along with the obvious health risks of in-store Black Friday shopping during a global pandemic, Madhok says there’s also a good chance there will be merchandise shortages, too. “Just like we were short on toilet paper during COVID, back-to-school time found us short on desks to work from at home,” she explains. “Lots of people want Pelotons, new computers, and other things to safely live life at home, so if you plan on gifting any popular items plan ahead.”

Interested in hearing more advice about how to navigate Black Friday shopping during COVID-19? We asked Madhok to share her tips and this is what she had to say.

Related: Why Small Business Saturday Is the Most Important Day to Shop This Holiday Season

Shop online.

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What’s the safest way to shop Black Friday sales during a pandemic? Madhok recommends shopping online. And if safety isn’t enough to sway you (though it should be), consider the prices. “Trends point toward more online sales this year, surpassing last year by about 40 percent, so that means more competition,” she explains. “Make sure you know what items you’re after and which stores sell them, then sign up for those store’s newsletters, apps, and social media ahead of time to make sure you don’t miss a deal.”


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Double-check the sale dates.

If you thought Black Friday deals were limited to the Friday after Thanksgiving, Madhok says you’d be mistaken. “Know that Friday is not the only day to shop,” she says. “The week of Thanksgiving is full of deals such as Brown Thursday, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. Some stores are kicking off 2020 Holiday online sales as early as October, so double-check the sale dates before you plan to shop.”

Try curbside pickup.

Not into the idea of holiday shopping online but nervous about doing it in-stores? Madhok suggests taking advantage of various big box retailer’s curbside pickup opportunities. “Stores like Target and Lowe’s allow you to shop online for items, and then an associate will bring your purchases to your car,” she explains. “This way, shoppers can avoid crowds and still get their items faster than they’d ship.”

Shop the sale section.

Make sure you don’t limit your shopping opportunities by thinking that Black Friday deals are the only deals to be had, especially you’re in the market for a unique gift that you worry will be out of stock. To help increase the selection, Madhok recommends shopping for steals in a store’s sale section. “Look for deep discounts on things people haven’t been buying, because there’s a lot of excess inventory,” she says.

Don’t wait until the last minute to shop. 

Much like shoppers, retailers are also facing the challenges of navigating Black Friday sales during a pandemic, which is why Madhok suggests selecting the items and sales you want to shop as soon as possible. “Supply chains have been disrupted during COVID and shipping services are overwhelmed and delayed,” she says. “Plan ahead, but be prepared for waitlists and IOUs for popular items.”

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