Black Friday and Covid-19: How Sickness Affects Sales

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Charity Lurvey, Staff Writer

Black Friday – the day of outstanding deals, parking lot camping trips, and trampled customers. One could call it a day of national unity when we can all bond over one common interest: sales. This year, however, Black Friday seems to be happening a bit differently. It’s been more than obvious that ever since the strike of the Covid-19 pandemic that retail and other businesses sales have gone down substantially. This has resulted in the closing and bankruptcy of many malls, department stores, and restaurants chains (Chuck E. Cheese, J.C.Penney, and Pier 1 just to name a few). With such a big day for these stores coming just around the corner, what can we expect considering the current condition of our country? To fully understand this, let’s look further into what Black Friday really is.


The term “Black Friday” and the actual tradition originate from two entirely different places.  The name is a reference to the day the U.S. gold market crashed in 1869. However the actual holiday is used by retailers as a day to make up for all the losses and debt from the previous months. Businesses write their losses and debts down in red ink and their profits down in black ink, which is why the term Black Friday is used. It’s a day in which stores attempt to make up all their lost profits before the end of the year and start using black ink again (black ink, Black Friday, get it?). Having it be the day after Thanksgiving also marks it as the informal beginning to the Christmas season, being the perfect time to start Christmas shopping. What does have to do with Covid-19 though? See, while Black Friday was originally used to help stores get out of debt, that’s not the main focus of this day of sales anymore. Retail no longer solely depends on this crucial day as a crutch to make them through another year. However, Black Friday still holds some extremely important roles that Covid-19 is sure to challenge.


One important role is setting up the Christmas shopping season. While Black Friday may just be at most a week of sales, the Christmas season is a whole month of eager shoppers essential for many businesses’ success.“If consumers follow up Thanksgiving by spending a lot of money on Black Friday and retailers show strong numbers, investors might have their first indication that it is shaping up to be a particularly profitable shopping season. This confidence can be reflected in the stock prices of the retailers that post strong sales.” says Investopedia. A less than preferable Black Friday might not just cause a stumble in sales for a day, but the entirety of December. 


How is Covid-19 actually affecting shopping though? What direct cause it is having on whether or not stores get sales? Well there’s a few ways, the first being the restrictions put in place. Currently in Illinois, after the restrictions put into action November 20th, retail stores are to operate at no more than 25% capacity. With less shoppers allowed, the spotlight goes to the same thing it’s been on for the past nine months: online shopping. So much in fact that e-commerce rates spiked up 92.7% in May according to a Mastercard Report. The second effect that Covid-19 is having is on stores that aren’t able to keep up a strong online presence. With 62% more people shopping online now than before the pandemic, many stores without online buying options can be easily left in the dust this Christmas season. 


While it may be unsure what major effects Black Friday will have on several businesses this year considering the precautions Covid-19 brings, it is sure that this year is and will be something we’ve never seen before.


Sources:      History of Black Friday)     (Businesses gone into bankruptcy due to Covid-19),events%20in%20the%20United%20States.    (Quote Investopedia)     (Illinois November 20th Precautions)    (Mastercard Report) 

(Online Shopping Stats)