Skip to main content

Retailers adjust and public health experts urge caution looking ahead to Black Friday in the pandemic

Quoted: “It will be unlike any other Thanksgiving week shopping that we’ve had, I imagine,” says retailing expert Jerry O’Brien.

Perhaps this year’s biggest Black Friday change is that retailers effectively started Black Friday weeks ago.

“They’re pretty much all coming out openly saying, ‘We’re going to spread Black Friday out through November,’” says O’Brien, who is executive director of the Kohl’s Center for Retailing Excellence at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

UW-Madison epidemiologist Dr. Ajay Sethi is hoping that foot traffic will be modest and safe.

“I anticipate there’ll be less Black Friday shopping this year compared to last year, because a sizable proportion of people are well aware of our pandemic,” says Sethi, an associate professor of population health sciences and faculty director of the UW-Madison master of public health degree program. “It obviously needs to be minimal, because we want to have really no crowding anywhere, for at least the next several weeks or months, so we can stop the spread of COVID in the state.”