Black Friday in 2020: Passing up on great deals or passing around a virus?


Photo Courtesy/ Unsplash Ashkan Forouzani

It’s 9 a.m. on a Friday morning and you’ve already been to three stores. You’re waiting in line to spend money at yet another store under the impression that you’re actually saving money. It’s Black Friday —  the most anticipated shopping spree of the year for most American families. Families try to buy gifts for the holidays while stores want to make enough money in the final quarter of the year. Where football typically kicks off Thanksgiving festivities, Black Friday kicks off holiday shopping. 

Under normal circumstances on Black Friday, stores are filled with people — often fighting over items and shoving each other in hopes of getting the best deals. Lines typically wrap around buildings, with people pushing to get into stores as fast as possible. However, COVID-19 is still a threat. It has plagued the United States for almost 10 months with no end in sight. We have adapted to life during the pandemic by eating outside (in tents and other coverings that are like poorly built Hoovervilles), limiting indoor capacity for public places, practicing social distancing and, most visibly, wearing masks. Black Friday is the epitome of what not to do during a pandemic; shoving and pushing in crowded stores completely disregards social distancing and indoor capacity guidelines. Not to mention the people waiting in line to enter stores will most likely not be waiting six feet apart. 

Public health officials and governors, as well as other community leaders, have already voiced concern that Thanksgiving will be a major “super-spreader” event. This should be the least of our concerns. Having a few family members over to share turkey (while obviously being cautious and gathering only those who have tested negative and have been responsibly following CDC guidelines) should not be as worrisome as piling into a department store and touching items that hundreds of others have touched that day. 

Though businesses have greatly suffered this year, there are several other ways to help them keep afloat. Rather than rushing for deals in person, I plan on shopping online on Cyber Monday – and you should too. 

It is extremely unfair to my family members, especially my mother and grandfather who are high risk, for me to galavant from store to store to save a few dollars on items I probably don’t need. It’s even more selfish to put the employees of these stores at risk. These employees are doing their best to support their families in the midst of a public health crisis, and are risking contracting a severe illness to support themselves. Why should shoppers risk so much to save a few dollars? Is that new gadget really worth it? 

I have been and will continue to take all precautions to protect myself and my loved ones. I plan to shop online this holiday season, and I’m planning on shopping small or through Amazon Smile, where you can donate to the charity of your choice. It is imperative to do the best we can to help others and keep everyone safe. If this year’s Black Friday follows the precedent set by previous years, the day will truly be viewed as black and bleak when it comes time to look at COVID-19 transmission rates in the weeks following the event.