COVID-19 RESTRICTS BLACK FRIDAY

Kevin Lynch, Entertainment Editor

Black Friday, arguably the biggest shopping day of the year, will kick off the holiday shopping season on Nov. 27 this year, and despite the ever-changing situation with the coronavirus, expectations are still moderately high.

In 2019, 189.6 million Americans shopped on Black Friday, and online sales brought in a near-record $7.4 billion, with 40% of shoppers choosing the digital route.

This year, however, this number of online shoppers is poised to increase as coronavirus restrictions will limit the number of people allowed in one space. As COVID-19 cases increase in number across the country, fears of another potential shutdown escalate as well. 

On its website, the CDC specifically lists “going shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving” as a high risk activity. With Illinois breaking daily case records, many are hesitant to risk exposure in order to go Black Friday shopping.

“I feel like shopping in person … would be a lot harder and kind of dangerous,” said sophomore Helene Avila. “So … I’m probably just going to shop online and things, just to be careful.”

In Best Buy, a retail chain that sees large deals on electronics on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, only 40% of each store’s maximum capacity will be allowed inside at a time, and employees will have to wear protective equipment and clean high touch surfaces, according to their website.

However, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Tuesday a plan to limit stores’ capacities to under 25% on Nov. 17, further restricting stores such as Best Buy.

As the pandemic pushes more people to choose to shop online, Black Friday’s future is questionable, since even before the coronavirus, the percentage of in-store Black Friday shoppers had been decreasing according to Business Insider.

While Avila usually shops online for Black Friday and Cyber Monday because it is less chaotic, she is expecting more traffic than usual on store websites this year and says that she will simply wait it out when websites get overloaded.

Pritzker has repeatedly warned Illinois citizens in the past few weeks of the danger of another lockdown and has expressed his concerns over large gatherings this Thanksgiving season. He specifically requests that citizens avoid unnecessary gatherings, a petition that will no doubt influence many’s decisions concerning Black Friday shopping.

“To be very clear, we are relying on you here,” Pritzker said in his Tuesday briefing. “Nobody will be going door to door to check on you. But we’re asking people to hold themselves and others accountable.”