Many large retail stores are changing the way customers can shop this holiday season. Photo credit: Corporate Walmart

As the holiday season is fast approaching, so are the holiday deals and sales that big box stores tout for increased revenue and increased customer traffic. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, many stores are changing the way they do Black Friday and other big shopping days.

Local mom-and-pop stores have had to change their holiday shopping plans as well.

Walmart, like fellow big retailers Target and Best Buy, is deciding to spread out its Black Friday sales across the month of November , calling the event “Black Friday Deals for Days.” Customers also have the option of ordering online and using curbside pickup instead of entering the store.

“I’m really excited that this year, when it matters most to our customers, we’re offering them more convenient and safer ways to shop Black Friday at Walmart…” Scott McCall, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer for Walmart U.S., said in a press release.

Target is spreading out its Black Friday deals through November to try to limit the number of customers on Black Friday. 

Target is implementing new safety measures like a totally contact-free checkout experience, adding more checkout devices throughout the store and allowing customers to reserve a spot in line outside of the store to limit the number of customers inside the store.

“As we approach the holidays, guests can feel confident in choosing Target – a safe experience, incredible value, and a differentiated assortment that will help them celebrate the joy of the season,” said Brian Cornell, Target CEO, in a press release.

Customers at Best Buy are required to wear face coverings and maintain social distancing guidelines, and Best Buy also offers same-day delivery, free next-day delivery, store pickup options and curbside pickup options.

Walmart, Target and Best Buy will all be closed this year on Thanksgiving, something that the retail giants typically don’t do.

Local clothing store owners Perry and Stacy Lancaster are following the big stores and offering in-store events at Brittons in the Devine Street shopping area throughout the holiday season, but the Lancasters know they can not compete with the big stores and online shopping.

“We’re not going to have a line out the door on Black Friday. We’re not that kind of store,” said Perry Lancaster.

Instead, Brittons is hosting a two-day show in December for one of the store’s designers who has suffered during the pandemic. On Christmas Eve, Brittons plans to host a drop-in event for customers to shop, have food and drinks – all prepared by Stacy Lancaster – and take pictures with the Santa Claus who has been coming to the store year after year.

Brittons, which opened in 1947, offers designer clothing for men and women, but shopping at Brittons is more about the experience than purchasing clothes.

“Over the summer, we called everyone on our mailing list of 70 years, just to check on them and see if they’re okay,” said Stacy Lancaster. “We offer something like – I say “It’s a Wonderful Life” – we offer that personal connection, so we’re trying to stay connected to our people.”

Gov. Henry McMaster encouraged South Carolinians to “get tested before turkey” and “to limit the number of family and friends going shopping together and in the stores.” At a press briefing Thursday, McMaster said people should consider shopping online instead. 

Walmart is offering Black Friday deals throughout the month of November, as well as in-store pickup of online orders instead of just the usual one day after Thanksgiving. Photo credit: Walmart Corporate

Target is offering customers the ability to see if there is a line to get into the store and reserve a spot. Photo credit: Sandy Huffaker/AP Images for Target

Store owners Perry and Stacy Lancaster of Brittons said they want shoppers to feel safe in the store while still being able to do holiday shopping.

Brittons is ready for the holidays. Perry Lancaster said that decorations for the store took a total of 24 hours over two weeks, and the store has over 3,500 lights on display.