Black Friday during COVID-19

Black Friday during COVID-19

It’s almost that time of the year again. The time where everything is on sale, stores are more crowded than ever, lines for game shops are painful to watch and people are fighting over the last sweaters on sale: Black Friday is coming, or is it? Multiple organizations have talked about skipping the special day this year to avoid the bustle. How is Europe dealing with Black Friday this year?

An article of BBC shows multiple countries in Europe are in lockdown again. France is currently in a second national lockdown and people are only allowed to leave their homes to go to work, buy essential goods or seek medical help. Social gatherings are banned, and non-essential shops, bars and restaurants are shut down. Greece, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Belgium, Spain and Italy are also in lockdown and have all non-essential stores closed which includes clothing stores. For these countries the Black Friday sales will mostly be online. Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark are also in lockdown, however all the stores are still open. Sweden is the only country not in lockdown. The number of new infections is rising again, but not as sharply as in other parts of the EU.

As mentioned before, in Holland there is a partial four-week lockdown. Restaurants and bars are only open for take outs, but all the stores are still open. The Federation of Dutch Trade Union (FNV) called out the retail stores to take responsibility and skip Black Friday this year ‘not to put public health on sale as well.’ Dutch politicians also say Black Friday is ‘fun-shopping’ and not essential, and they advise people to limit their visits to the mall.

A crowded mall in Utrecht. Not everyone is wearing a mask.

Although the Federation of Dutch Trade advised stores to pass on this year’s Black Friday, it seems like most stores in Holland are still open and preparing for the sales day. Fatoumata Diakhaby, employee of H&M in the city Breda informed me how the store is getting ready for this Black Friday. “All H&M employees got a special team app where we get all our information and actual updates on. We got multiple messages about Black Friday saying we really need to keep our distance, advice clients to wear their masks and warn our supervisor when it gets too busy in the store. There also is a new rule that there is only a certain amount of people allowed in the store and we made sure the changing rooms are completely corona proof”, thus Diakheby.

When I asked Diakheby what she personally thinks about the stores staying open during COVID, this is what she responded: “I think it is not necessary this year to still have Black Friday in the stores. H&M could also tell their costumers to shop the items online. On the other hand, you cannot obligate people to not come to the stores while they are still open. Black Friday is a day a lot of people, especially students who don’t have a lot to spend, are looking forward to so I also get it why stores are staying open. It’s a difficult decision, you can look at it from two different sides.”

“You cannot obligate people to not come to the stores while they are still open”

There is sale everywhere in the malls for Black Friday

While the stores in Holland are still open, all the stores in Belgium which are not essential are closed. This has a big impact on the economy of the country. In this audio fragment I talked to Terra Timmer, an inhabitant of Belgium. We spoke about what Black Friday is going to look like with the new measures.

It seems like Timmer is going to go after the online sales since the stores in Belgium are all closed. The European countries all cope differently with Black Friday, since a lot of countries are in a full lockdown and have their non-essential stores closed. For this countries Black Friday will mostly be online. Only in The Netherlands, Germany and Denmark the malls are still open and it looks like stores are preparing for the busy day.

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