COVID on Sale

A Look Into Black Friday and the Holiday Season Amidst a Pandemic


Jessica Gordon

A Christmas Tree Commemorating the Holiday Season.

by Jessica Gordon, Editor-in-Chief

The rush and bustle of holiday shopping has become a staple to the modern holiday experience. Among this shopping is the rush of sales and opportunity to afford the gifts wished for by loved ones brought on by the infamous Black Friday.

Two shopping bags representing Black Friday sales. (Jessica Gordon)

Taking root in Philadelphia in the 1950s, Black Friday earned its name from city police to describe the flooded streets and chaos that took place in preparation for the Army-Navy football game – deeming it as a dark day. Police could not take this day off and the chaotic crowds led to increased rates of shoplifting.

The day and its name gained traction in Philadelphia, but it did not reach the nationwide level of popularity we know today until the late 1980s. The name today, in light of the retail sales, more accurately reflects the idea that retailers went from being “in the red” to being “in the black” – meaning that they made profits that day as opposed to losses.

The beloved tradition and faux-holiday has made its way into the lives of multitudes and ultimately shaped the Thanksgiving holiday we know today – as well as how we shop for the upcoming holiday season.

So the question is beckoned, how did this look amidst the COVID-19 pandemic that has struck the nation? Instead of retiring the event as a whole, retailers have ultimately decided to transform it

Large companies like Best Buy, Target, and Walmart have made the ultimate decision to spite the tradition of Black Friday being a one day event and spread the bargains over the course of weeks and months. Target began sales in October, while Walmart has been dispersing online discounts throughout the month of November. 

“Black Friday isn’t just one day this year — it’s months long,” Best Buy was quoted saying in a CBS News article.

With the dispersed sales and mask mandates made to modify in-person sales, Black Friday sales boomed online as in-person shopping experienced a drop of 30% from last year. Online sales experienced an increase of 22% with sales hitting a reported total of $9 billion.

Now that the impact of COVID on Black Friday has been established, what was Black Friday’s impact on COVID? 

While not necessarily at the hands of Black Friday, but at the hands of the holiday season – COVID cases in Washington State experienced an exponential uptick in the month of November. The month began with 529 new reported cases and ended with 3,842 new reported cases.

This increase moved into the month of December, the day with the most newly reported cases was December 7 with a total of 5,963 cases.

As the holiday season urges families and friends to gather, it is essential to remember the reason for staying distant and masked-up. As a nation, we should strive to care for one another – and that means staying safe in this time of need, as frustrating as it can be.

A set of masks, as recommended by the CDC, for the public to wear. (Jessica Gordon)

We may have a while to go, but the more that we follow the precautions set aside by the CDC, the closer we are to normality as we look toward the rest of 2021.