Examining the effect that COVID-19 will have on the holiday shopping season

With the holiday season coming, significant changes will be made when it comes to the shopping season. Since social distancing and masks are still being enforced, holiday shopping has changed to keep everyone safe. As a further detail to note, the number of COVID-19 cases has significantly increased in Illinois. To stay safe and still running, companies and businesses will have to adapt  to these changes.

Holiday shopping is one of the busiest times of year for most stores, which is why strict rules will be put in place to prevent crowding. Many stores have been extending the time that these sales will last. An example of this is at Walmart, where they are extending the days to three separate ones for shopping online or in-person. Retailers including Walmart, Kohls, Target and Best Buy did not open on Thanksgiving to minimize crowding. Walmart has also reinstated its rules that limit the number of customers in-store, only allowing the store to get up to 20% capacity. Masks are still required when entering a store, as per CDC guidelines. At the end of the day, most stores are enforcing mask-wearing, social distancing, capacity limits and an increase of online sales rather than in-person ones.

As a result of the pandemic, online shopping will include more sales than ever before. Retailers are expected to shift their focus to an online shopping approach, due to the lack of people coming in-store. Because of this shift, customers are warned that there might be problems with the traditional online shopping experience. For example, shipping delays because of too many orders and not enough employees may cause issues with receiving gifts on time. Due to COVID-19, shipping products over longer distances may take more time than they normally would. Companies like Amazon describe ways to prevent this would be to either order items earlier than normal, or to order things for pick-up from local shops.

The changes and alterations made for holiday shopping have affected many this holiday season. Neuqua Valley students share their plans and ideas for holiday shopping. Sarah Bourke, senior, stated, “I have to shop for my friends and family…but with COVID and the cases getting so high we don’t feel comfortable going into these crowds so we will shop online for our gifts this year and hopefully everything works so we don’t have to go into the stores.” Another student, Lauryn Boykin, senior, says, “I will still be shopping, but probably more online then usual.” They are both finding ways to adjust their holiday shopping plans to stay safe amidst the global pandemic. 

Despite the challenges COVID-19 has presented for the holiday season, safe alternative ways to purchase gifts for your loved ones are available at some stores. Numerous retail companies such as Target, Walmart and Best Buy are adjusting sales by extending dates of sales, limiting the numbers of customers inside stores and introducing more ways to shop online. Along with this adjustment, stores such as Lowe’s, Best Buy and Macy’s are offering curbside pickup services to customers to avoid long lines and prevent risks from in-person interactions. 

Though the circumstances are different for the holidays this year, stores are still thinking up new ways to alter the shopping experience. The places listed previously are just a few to name, but the local businesses remain open as well. Have a safe and happy holiday season!