Walmart starts counting, limiting customers again amid virus surge
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People wearing masks and gloves wait to check out at a Walmart store in Uniondale, N.Y., in April 2020.
AP photo/Reed Saxon
"As we've said, Black Friday isn't just one day this year — it's months long," Best Buy said in a statement.
That's true: Some Best Buy deals became available online in October with more deals going live in stores on November 1. On select days, Best Buy shoppers can get deeper discounts from its Black Friday ad early via its website, with the first event beginning November 5.
Stores will open at 5 am on Black Friday with the retailer still requiring shoppers to wear face coverings. It's also enforcing capacity controls and there will be a "dedicated customer experience host" to help direct shoppers and answer questions.
Contactless curbside pickup and expanded same-day delivery will also be available.
AP photo/Paul Sakuma
Home Depot will offer discounts online and in stores from November 6 through December 2.
The retailer recently said it decided to "reinvent" Black Friday this year to reduce stress for consumers who typically rush to stores in droves to grab the best deals. Given the pandemic, the company indicated that maintaining safety was also a factor in its decision.
Home Depot gave its app users advance access to some of the discounts.
AP photo/Chuck Burton
Loyal customers will see an expanded selection of items, with the company selling more home goods, exercise equipment and other items people wouldn't normally associate with the home improvement retailer.
Lowe's "Season of Savings" already began last week — its earliest start date ever. The Black Friday-like event includes "competitive deals in-store and online" through December.
One notable addition this year: Free delivery of fresh-cut trees and wreaths on orders more than $45.
AP photo/Alan Diaz
Deals will be sold online and in stores for the entire month of November in a promotion called "Black Friday Now." Target will offer "weeklong discounts and digital deals every day" beginning on November 1. It's also extending its price-match policy from two weeks after the purchase date to two months.
Target is also bolstering its safety features at its stores — including contactless payment in its app, reducing lines by having employees rove the store to let customers pay and letting shoppers make reservations.
AP photo/Paul Sakuma
America's largest retailer is spreading Black Friday sales over three weekends, which will begin on its website before hitting stores a few days later. "Black Friday Deals for Days" encompasses the first, second and fourth weekends of November, with the deals appearing online Wednesdays.
Although it's pushing people to shop online and use its curbside pickup option, shoppers that go to its stores won't experience the pandemonium of the past. Instead, they will form single-file lines at the entrance and be given sanitized shopping carts. "Health Ambassadors" will be stationed at entrances to remind people to put on their masks. Social distancing will be enforced inside with capacity controls and one-way lanes.
Walmart said the changes at its stores "will be safer and more manageable for both our customers and our associates."
Walmart has resumed counting and monitoring the number of customers who enter and leave its stores. This comes as coronavirus cases in the United States hit daily highs.
In April, the company began restricting the number of people to 20% of its store capacity, or lower if mandated by local officials. But for a brief period of the time, its stores stopped counting the number of customers who entered its stores.
“We know from months of metering data in our stores that the vast majority of the time our stores didn’t reach our self-imposed 20% metering capacity,” said Kory Lundberg, a Walmart spokesperson. “Out of an abundance of caution, we have resumed counting the number of people entering and leaving our stores.”
Like other retailers, Walmart is spreading Black Friday sales over time to limit the number of people in stores during the holiday shopping season.
Walmart’s Black Friday deals are lasting three weekends, beginning on its website before hitting stores a few days later. “Black Friday Deals for Days” encompassed the first and second weekends of November and will include the fourth weekend too, with the deals appearing online Wednesdays.
With the holiday season fast approaching and the weather getting colder, more shoppers are looking to stock up for the winter season ahead. Nearly 60% of shoppers say they plan to stock up again as winter approaches, according to a survey of 1,000 shoppers by market research firm Inmar Intelligence conducted during the week of Oct. 14.
Other grocery store chains, such as Kroger and Giant, have begun reinstating purchase limits on items, such as toilet paper, paper towels and disinfecting wipes.
Coronavirus cases have surged to record levels in the U.S., with more than 45 states reporting new infections this week than the week prior, according to data from John Hopkins University.
How major retailers are changing Black Friday in 2020:
Virus by the numbers