6 ways retailers are making holiday shopping safe, merry and bright

From reservations to expanded promotions, retailers continue to meet customers’ needs

Certain things have become normal for shoppers. We’ve all become accustomed to wearing a mask, waiting in line before entering stores, opting for delivery and curbside pickup, keeping freshly sanitized carts six feet away from other customers and following directional aisle signage.

Retailers are expanding their offerings and safety measures to keep employees and customers happy and healthy during the busy holiday shopping season. In fact, 65 percent of retailers plan on implementing new safety protocols related to COVID-19 specifically for the holidays. Read on for a few of the most effective examples so far.

2020 Holiday season

Learn more about the retail trends we are seeing this holiday season here.

Virtual stores

Value City Furniture created a virtual 3D showroom with its bestselling pieces, bringing the in-store experience online for customers who prefer to shop from the safety of their homes. Users can choose between different views to navigate the 3D store and take furniture measurements using their cursor.

Expanding Black Friday

Retailers have extended Black Friday deals, offering many as early as October to curb in-store crowds on Black Friday and entice customers to start their shopping early. Among the many promotions available, Lowe’s began its “Season of Savings” sale on October 22 and BJ’s Wholesale Club has a three-week wave of deals in November.

Simplicity in stores

Clarity and simplicity in stores go a long way to make shopping trips quick, easy and efficient for customers looking to get in and out in a hurry. Carter’s switched up merchandising to prominently display pajamas, T-shirts and sweatpants near entrances instead of the typical plaid dresses and button-down shirts that are not as popular this holiday season. Pricing is more straightforward too, with exact prices listed as opposed to the percentage markdown. Furniture retailer CB2 is bundling holiday décor so shoppers can quickly grab everything they need to decorate a mantel or Christmas tree without having to pick out individual items.

Reservation shopping

Target created an online reservation system allowing people to check if there’s a line outside their local store, and if so, to claim a spot before leaving the house. Employees are equipped with mobile checkout devices to help customers skip long checkout lines.

Closed on Thanksgiving

Many retailers are closing stores on Thanksgiving this year to cut back on crowds and encourage consumers to shop online instead. In a recent NRF survey, 85 percent of retailers said they plan to heavily promote online options as part of COVID-safe shopping. Bed Bath & Beyond, Dick’s Sporting Goods, The Home Depot, Kohl’s, Macy’s and Walmart are just a few companies that have announced the decision to close on the holiday.

Socially distant Santa

Visiting Santa at a store or the mall will also look different this year. Nordstrom is offering 15-minute video calls with Santa for $20, with proceeds benefiting Operation Warm and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and Canada. Shoppers can also email letters to Santa or write letters to be delivered in-store or through curbside pickup. At Bellevue Square, a popular shopping center in Bellevue, Wash., children and families can make an appointment to take contactless photos with Santa while he checks his list behind his desk in the background.