An employee works on a display in a Walmart store in Chicago prior to Black Friday on November 20, 2018.
Kamil Krzaczynski | Reuters
For shoppers who can't part with Black Friday traditions, Walmart said Wednesday that events are still planned in the store with high discounts.
However, the holiday sales days will come with pandemic-related precautions. Shops open at 5 a.m. local time. Customers need to align a single file before entering. Shops limit the number of people inside. The employees distribute cleaned shopping carts. And some, called health ambassadors, will greet shoppers and remind them to put on a mask.
Walmart plans to take steps to discourage crowds and also encourage some bargain hunters online. The company announced that it will split Black Friday into three different Christmas sales events staggered throughout the month of November. Each one will start on their website and hit stores a few days later.
Customers can also pick up purchases in-store without having to enter the roadside with the pick-up.
Scott McCall, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer of Walmart USA, said the company wanted to offer low prices, convenience and security – no matter how customers shop.
"We were very thoughtful when planning this year's event," he said in a press release. "By spreading the deals over several days and delivering our hottest deals online, we expect the Black Friday experience in our stores to be safer and more manageable for both our customers and our employees."
Walmart's first Black Friday event kicks off online on November 4th and in stores on November 7th, featuring toys, electronics, and household products. The second event, which focuses on electronics such as televisions, smartphones, computers and tablets, as well as some items from other product groups, starts online on November 11th and in stores on November 14th. The third event begins online on November 25th and in stores on November 25th – the same day as the usual post-Thanksgiving shopping event. There will be a range of items from electronics and toys to clothing and seasonal decor.
Retailers have been cautious about their holiday sales prospects as they try to predict customer appetites, celebrate the season, and exchange gifts during a global health crisis and recession. The National Retail Federation, which usually publishes its forecast in early October, has yet to weigh up.
However, Deloitte and Accenture have shared mixed pictures of how the normally busy shopping phase might play out. Deloitte predicted retail sales will rise between 1% and 1.5% during the holidays, but said that will depend on how much wealthy Americans indulge and how much low-income families pull out. However, customers surveyed by Accenture said they spend an average of $ 540 – nearly $ 100 less than last year.
Major retailers, including Walmart, Target, and Best Buy, have tried to encourage customers to start their vacation shopping earlier than usual by launching sales events in October. Walmart started its "Big Save Event" on Sunday, just days before the start of Amazon Prime Day on Tuesday. Walmarts event runs through Thursday.