Since early November, big corporations and small local businesses alike have been marketing early-bird sales, which encourage customers to shop before Black Friday.
An annual tradition, Black Friday is a day on which businesses offer discounts and deals the weekend following Thanksgiving, and this year, saw it occur under specific health-related constraints. Despite the inconvenience of added safety procedures, businesses and students strived to celebrate Black Friday — in a different way.
Lee Nguyen, a junior in Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, went shopping in person for deals on Black Friday. She said she felt comfortable with the precautions different stores put in place.
Hand sanitizer was available at building entrances and owners encouraged customers to sanitize before entering, she said, while social distancing and mask-wearing were also enforced.
“In terms of safety, I feel that it’s pretty good to go shopping even during the pandemic,” Nguyen said. “Of course, it’s more crowded than before, because people tend to go out on Black Friday.”
Despite hunting for discounts herself, Nguyen said the experience wasn’t necessarily worth it — many stores she visited already had sales prior to Black Friday, making the special occasion nearly pointless.
On her YouTube channel, Nguyen visually captured her Black Friday experience in a vlog. She said she wanted to document this year’s holiday for families of Boston’s college students, who may still be wary about their child’s safety in the city.
“Parents who send their kids to college, they will feel uncertain and nervous because they don’t know if their kid got COVID because of Black Friday,” Nguyen said. “By doing the video, I can portray the whole scenario, the whole picture of Black Friday in America.”
While visiting popular shopping areas such as Newbury Street and the Prudential Center, Nguyen said, she saw lines stretching outside of stores due to capacity limits.
As an international student from Vietnam, Nguyen spent Thanksgiving weekend on campus last year as well, but said several notable differences were present in the 2020 celebration.
“Last year, Black Friday had really better deals compared to this one,” Nguyen said. “This year, because people had to line up outside, there were less people and even at cashier, they had all the COVID safety tools like glasses in front of the cashier, the hand sanitizer, air filters, all of those things.”
Comicopia, a comic book store in Kenmore Square, was one business that decided not to host a big sale this Black Friday.
Jared Walske, assistant manager of Comicopia, said the store put on a sale the week prior to Thanksgiving break to provide college students an opportunity to shop while they were still on campus.
“Given the pandemic and everything, we weren’t sure what Black Friday weekend [was] even going to look like,” Walske said. “People definitely noticed the sale and we definitely got a bump.”
On Black Friday weekend, Walske said, the store did not witness a big change.
“The weekend we had was pretty standard for us,” Walske said, “since the pandemic started.”