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Black Friday is too big risky to have during the pandemic, but many stores are having their regular sales anyway.

With COVID-19 still looming over everyone, buying items for a fourth of the price should be the last thing on anyone’s minds. It’s obvious how the coronavirus has shifted plans this year, changed the way people connect with others and celebrate on occasions. Black Friday shopping shouldn’t be an exception to this. 

As time has gone by since the beginning of the pandemic in March, it seems people are getting more and more comfortable breaking quarantine and social distancing guidelines. This is especially interesting considering how COVID-19’s spread  has gotten much worse than it was in the beginning when people were panicking and stocking up on toilet paper. It reached its peak in the U.S. on Nov. 13 with 181,571 new cases. It’s become apparent that quarantining and social distancing is something many have started to overlook, with the hopes of returning to days pre-coronavirus.

The thought of Black Friday brings images of busy store fronts and crowded shopping centers to mind, which is the last thing the U.S. needs during a pandemic. Even if stores decide to limit the number of people allowed inside, lines will be created even longer than previous years with no guarantee of social distancing. Companies should make the same deals online that would be available in stores in the hopes of saving society from another super-spreader event.

Cyber Monday is a day that’s very similar to Black Friday, except it’s completely online. If people really do need to save money for the holidays, Cyber Monday would be a great alternative event to take advantage of. While Cyber Monday is pretty much the same concept, people enjoy the thrill of the in-person experience and it’s unlikely that the U.S. will come to an agreement on canceling Black Friday. The fact that Black Friday is a holiday most Americans acknowledge is something that will be hard to challenge. The thrill of fighting for a physical item has a type of gratification that even two-day shipping might have trouble competing with.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, people have been taking advantage of online shopping to ensure their safety and get what they need with ease. It wouldn't be all that different to shift one day of the year completely online, or to just cancel it and let Cyber Monday take the spotlight. Stores could still limit their supply to create the same rush Black Friday deals create or even offer free shipping.

It doesn’t help that stores are still advertising for the deals that will be offered. Throughout the pandemic, a vast number of household company names have made it known they’re itching to open business back up to the public. It’s interesting considering it’s the small businesses who’ve really been harmed during this time. Walmart, one of the biggest corporations, holds three separate Black Friday sales events in the month of November. It seems as though big corporations are holding the value of money over the wellbeing of their customers. 

Announcing social distancing guidelines can only do so much during a hectic event, such as Black Friday. If a pandemic doesn’t make companies reimagine Black Friday for the sake of public health, consumers should really consider if saving a few bucks is worth risking the lives of many.

Mastan Rashid is a sophomore media arts and design major. Contact Mastan at rashi2mx@dukes.jmu.edu