Major retailers offer Black Friday discounts during pandemic

Attention shoppers: Black Friday is already here.

Due to the pandemic, some major retailers have ditched the annual ritual doorbuster deals on the day after Thanksgiving in favor of holiday season-long discounts instead.

Walmart, which has a Supercenter at 8500 N. Wickham Road in Viera, is promising "an all-new Black Friday experience," offering deals that started in October, according to a news release.

During the holidays, Walmart will continue its safety practices implemented due to COVID-19, including reduced store hours to give associates extra time to clean and sanitize stores and stock shelves, required face coverings for customers and associates, plastic barriers at pharmacies and checkouts, and customer traffic management to encourage social distancing.

In addition, the 11,500-store retailer is hiring thousands of workers to handle an anticipated surge in online shopping. Walmart also is offering contactless pickup and delivery services on items that can be picked up or delivered as soon as the same day, express delivery on many items delivered within two hours, and free next day or two-day shipping on online orders exceeding $35. Express delivery and free delivery depend on eligibility and customer location.

The retailer is offering more holiday gifts that reflect the new normal, including loungewear, sleepwear, outdoor grills, exercise and sporting equipment, pet products and electronics.

Kohl’s, a retailer with one of its 1,160 stores at 6729 Colonnade Ave. in Viera, also has been offering deals since October and plans more savings through December, including a new Black Friday Week to attract customers. Kohl’s has implemented numerous safety measures in its stores and redesigned its website to provide online shoppers with easier access and more selections.

The company is offering contactless delivery options such as Drive Up as well as In-Store Pick Up services. Shoppers can choose Buy Online, Pick Up in Store or Ship to Store options. Stores also accept free, unpackaged returns for customers of e-commerce giant Amazon.

Many major retailers rescheduled their holiday sales after Amazon moved its lucrative Prime Day from July to mid-October.

In another sign of COVID’s impact on the holiday shopping season, Walmart, Kohl’s and several other large retailers will be closed on Thanksgiving Day. For Walmart, it’s the first time the retailer has shuttered stores on Thanksgiving since the late 1980s. 

"We know it’s been a trying year, and you’ve stepped up," Walmart U.S. president and CEO John Furner wrote in a company memo. "We want you to enjoy the day at home with your loved ones."

Local businesses try inventive methods to survive amid COVID

As the COVID-19 pandemic was first rampaging through the U.S. and crippling businesses, some locally owned small businesses turned to innovative strategies to stay afloat and serve their customers.

At La Moda Boutique, in the Pineda Landings shopping center in Suntree, the women’s fashion store’s co-owners, sisters-in-law Lisa and Dawn Vaccarrelli, relied on social media to run their business from home after it was forced to close for
six weeks. 

"I did everything possible to stay relevant and to give our customers a feeling of some sort of normalcy," Lisa Vaccarelli stated in an email. "As I physically delivered merchandise to customers’ front doors or dropped off packages at the post office with free local delivery, I was told by many women that it really lifted their spirits and they were
so thankful." 

Jennifer Sugarman, president and CEO of the Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce, noted that while Brevard County’s restaurant and bar community has been hit the hardest by the pandemic, with several holiday parties cancelling due to corporate safety policies, "the continued integration of curbside pickup, utilizing social media for marketing and Open for Business signage that includes storefront safety procedures, is a sure ticket to driving holiday traffic for our business community."

One such storefront is Grimaldi Candy Company at The Avenue Viera and in Rockledge, where owner Jim Frazier has placed a large Open for Business sign in front of his storefront and a banner to ‘"Eat More Chocolate." Frazier has used social media "to display new goods and gifts entering the marketplace, local advertising with digital and print media and, of course, a curbside pick-up option to make shoppers feel even more at ease this holiday season," Sugraman added.  

La Moda kicked off the holiday season with a Joseph Ribkoff trunk show event on Oct. 22, featuring the fall 2020 collection from the world-renowned Canadian fashion designer. 

For more information, go to lamodagirls.com or call 321-773-5234.

The Avenue recently became the first retail center of its kind to receive the GBAC STAR Facility Accreditation, the cleaning industry’s only outbreak prevention, response and recovery accreditation, Sugarman said.