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Online holiday shopping during a pandemic

A worker shops the Target Midway store for a Shipt client on September 11, 2020, in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Glen Stubbe/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)

By Hannah Kieffer

Holiday shopping will be entirely different this year due to the COVD-19 pandemic. Many individuals are on the lookout for sales, especially online. How can you be better prepared for this holiday shopping season? 

Stores such as Walmart and Target are offering contractless curbside pickup through their apps, so shoppers don’t have to wait in line. These options have become very popular among at risk and health conscious shoppers. 

All you have to do is log into the store app, create an account, and add items to your pickup order. This is very similar to online shopping, yet you get the items much faster, and the store employees bring your order right out to your car. Although not all major retailers have been as flexible in making accommodations for their shoppers. 

“In Michigan, I think that people are going to still do that (shop in person) for Black Friday,” said Alexis Wheaton, a 19-year-old Western Michigan University student. “I work in retail and I’m expecting big crowds.”

While some stores are making accommodations for shoppers, it is difficult for workers to enforce -especially rules like wearing masks.

“I’ve seen stores that say they have limits on how many people they let in their stores, and they just don’t follow them,” Wheaton said. “Or some places now that it’s law are making people wear masks, but they didn’t used to until it became the law.”

Meijer and Aldi have both started doing drive-up orders very recently. These convenient options may continue to spread throughout the rest of retailers in order to compete with other stores. Other major retailers such as Bath and Body Works have continuously had online only sales. This has been a popular marketing tactic during the pandemic, as it keeps the employees of said company safer by having less people in their stores. We may see these trends continue with the holidays quickly approaching. 

Companies are trying to anticipate just how busy Black Friday might be this year. Many stores are also closed this Thanksgiving in order to reduce the big Black Friday crowds. In the past few years Black Friday has started on Thanksgiving night. Target, Walmart, and Best Buy will all be allowing their employees to enjoy the holiday with their family by keeping their doors closed. 

Amazon has become increasingly popular over the last few months due to its contactless shopping. Prime Day, and Cyber Monday deals can make it easy to get what you need for the holidays without the crowds. Although you shouldn’t expect large sales early from many other retailers, Amazon has already reduced their prices on numerous Apple products.The Apple iPad 2020 (32GB) and The Apple MacBook Air 2020 have already been put on sale for the holiday season.

However some companies have already placed their items online at a reduced price. Encouraging people to shop in the comfort of their own home by having online only sales could be the best way for larger retailers to reduce crowds this year. Online shopping has already been popular over the past few years, but the COVID-19 pandemic may be the final push towards driving a sharp increase in  online sales this holiday season.