We live in a country in which many people would risk contracting a deadly disease or passing that deadly disease on to someone else for the chance to buy a soft-serve machine at 10% off. It's an unfortunate reality, but it's what the founders wanted.
So George Washington and friends must be slamming their bones against their graves right now to know that Target, Dicks Sporting Goods, and Walmart have all announced that they will close stores this Thanksgiving to stave off large crowds that generally occur within the holiday rush. Sure, a herd of people frothing at the mouth to get a discounted Nintendo Switch might seem like a bad thing to encourage amid a pandemic, but what is the alternative? Putting those sales online? Extending the sales over the course of a few weeks? Also, closing for Black Friday?
Oh, yeah, about that last one. There's no word yet on whether or not these major chains are actually going to close on Black Friday. So, in essence, the prophetic petri dish that will be Black Friday shopping could still very much be intact, but hopefully, that changes soon. In the meantime, it feels like the Big Box stores are merely hoping that by extending their deals throughout November, that they will reduce the crowd come Black Friday. Said Target in a press release:
"Historically, deal hunting and holiday shopping can mean crowded events, and this isn't a year for crowds. That's why our biggest holiday deals will be available earlier than ever ... This season, you can count on getting extra-big savings without the extra-long lines, with plenty of opportunities to score the best deals on the hottest items both before and after November 26."
It's a decent enough plan, but we all know how this will really go. Black Friday creates a Pavlovian response within the American mind. It doesn't matter if the deals extend all month. There are deals to be had in all of the months all of the time, and nobody cares. The moment the clock strikes midnight on Thanksgiving, United States citizens all around the country will begin salivating at the mouth at the thought of a Panini Press that you can buy on the cheap. We're conditioned to do it, and if these chains want to avoid a COVID catastrophe, then they're better off just closing up for the entire weekend.
Or, at the very least, maybe they could give their workers legitimate overtime pay for risking their lives to deal with whatever shit Black Friday is going to inevitably bring their way.