By Megan Wehring
Black Friday is a tradition for many – facing hectic crowds and finding the best shopping deals in time for Christmas. But this year will not be the same — COVID-19 infections are on the rise, causing many people to be reluctant of in-store shopping and turning to online delivery.
“People will do anything to save a few dollars so I do not think that will stop a large portion of the population from attending,” said Judith Lima, Kyle resident and Hays CISD District Leadership Team volunteer. “We can see this at restaurants – people are going out regardless of the recommendation to not go as often.”
Several major retailers started their Black Friday deals earlier. Instead of having the typical one-day shopping experience, it’s now more of a month or two months worth of deals to look forward to. These companies may see less crowds in their stores on the Friday after Thanksgiving as a result.
Lauren Ibarra Garza, Kyle resident, said she is more inclined to do virtual shopping than trying to manage the massive in-person crowds this year.
“Because of COVID risks, of course,” Garza explained why she will opt out of Black Friday shopping. “So many stores have been emailing me that I can start ‘Black Friday’ shopping online now. Plus, there are no lines online! I think stores will be less crowded than they have been in the past.”
Garza is not the typical Black Friday shopper, waiting in lines for hours on end to buy one item, but she has consistently enjoyed one special family memory.
“It’s always been a fun afternoon activity with my mom,” Garza told the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch. “Just catching up with my mom while walking through stores and finding truly great deals, like the rare 90% off cashmere sweater.”
Small Business Saturday is coming up too; cities like Buda are encouraging more people to shop local to boost business at mom-and-pop stores for the holiday season. After living in Austin for her years at University of Texas at Austin and then moving to Kyle at the beginning of the pandemic, Lima said she hopes to see more local shops continuing to open up in the Hays County area.
“I really enjoyed shopping locally when I was in Austin but now that I’m back in Kyle I’m not aware of many local shops,” Lima said. “These shops also don’t have robust websites with many options so for Black Friday specific deals I don’t really consider them. They don’t have the ability to have sale margins as large as big box retailers.”
Online shopping has become more appealing over the years, especially with strictly online stores like Amazon. Lima said she does about 90% of her shopping in-person but that number is expected to change.
“If I want something like accessories, electronics or home goods, I can do it online,” Lima said. “More of the things that I need like clothes or supplies for my family, I may shop in person with as many safety precautions as possible.”
Lima recalled one of her favorite Black Friday memories that, unfortunately, will not happen this year.
“Every Friday morning I would wake up at the crack of dawn to go to Home Depot with my dad,” Lima said. “We would buy poinsettias, my mom’s favorite winter flowers, for $1 to surprise my mom. This is something I have done with myself dad for over 10 years through middle school, high school, college and post.”
While crowds are still expected for Black Friday shopping, Lima had some lasting advice to give to people who are planning to hit the stores.
“Go during non-peak hours before the actual Black Friday date, most stores have had the sales available for weeks,” Lima said. “If you don’t really need it, don’t go to the stores. Nothing is more important than everyone’s health. If you feel like you ‘have to’ go to Black Friday, then be safe. Wear a mask, try not to pick up items you’re not purchasing, carry hand sanitizers, leave kids and elderly family members at home.”