The COVID-19 pandemic continues to change the way we live our day-to-day lives — and shopping is no different.
This year, many stores have released deals in advance of the traditional single-day Black Friday shopping event in hopes of gaining more business and managing crowds.
The frenzy on the day after Thanksgiving that many experienced before the pandemic may not return as shoppers once knew it, with discounts now spread over a longer period of time and the rise of Cyber Monday eating away at in-person demand.
Rusty Strodtman, manager of the Columbia Mall, said sales there as a whole this year have been 15% higher than they were in 2019. He expects holiday sales to be similar.
"We anticipate the trend to continue as long as stores have the goods to sell and the people to sell them," he said.
However, unlike previous years where the mall would have opened at 7 a.m. or earlier on Black Friday, the mall won't open its doors for shoppers until 9 a.m. Friday, as he believes not as many people will be making the trek to the mall, he said.
"The demand just isn't there," he said.
The mall will be closed Thanksgiving Day.
Bill Henderson, manager of Sunglass Hut at the mall, said last week the business would begin Black Friday sales early again this year. Full-priced sunglasses are marked down, with clearance items receiving an extra decrease in price, he said.
Customers interviewed at the mall have differing plans when it comes to Black Friday, with about half leaning toward shopping and the others planning to stay home.
"I've worked years in retail," Janet Adams said. "Now that I am retired, I would rather avoid the crowds, but I may go to a few places. Nothing early in the morning, though."
Jaclyn Korte was uncertain too, saying more of her family will be together for the holiday than they have been in years past.
"We might go to a few stores," she said. She looked to her children for ideas of where they might go. The ideas included Target, Kohl's and Bass Pro Shops.
Laura Whitacre said she is likely staying home, but was considering what deals would be available as stores are starting to hold sales weeks ahead of usual.
"I am not really into the crowds, whether pre-COVID or now," she said.
Target has offered holiday deals at its stores since October for customers looking to start shopping for gifts early, the store wrote in a news release.
"We're making it easier than ever for guests to shop fior everything on their terms," wrote Christina Hennington, executive vice president.
Walmart has made changes to its Black Friday sales and operations this year, extending delivery hours and adding items to the list of what can be delivered to customers, spokesperson Charles Crowson wrote in an email to the Tribune.
"Walmart is making it even easier and more convenient for customers to do their holiday shopping with more gifts than ever available via pickup and delivery," Crowson wrote.
Barnes & Noble is hosting its annual event with signed books and other deals.
"Our Black Friday signed editions are a favorite holiday tradition here at Barnes & Noble, and we are so excited about the fantastic selection we have to offer book-lovers this year," chief merchandising officer Jackie De Leo wrote in a news release.
The store will offer discounts from Friday through Monday in-person and online starting on Thanksgiving.
This article originally appeared on Columbia Daily Tribune: Black Friday hours scaled back because of online shopping, pandemic