NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but Christmas shopping will look a lot different during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s not as packed as usual,” holiday shopper Glen Doolittle said. “You don’t see as much. Of course, you see a lot more Amazon, you see a lot more shipping going on.”
And experts say the reduced crowds are probably for the best.
“Of course, shopping often involves contact, but lots of people have figured out how to shop online, right? I think that’s probably the safest way to shop,” said Dr. William Schaffner, infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “But if you’re going out, please think about wearing that mask, social distancing, keep apart and do things as quickly as possible.”
Retailers are doing what they can to keep customers safe and make sure they can get in and out quickly.
“A lot of people will be using our curbside pickup out front,” Old Navy general manager Brad Goostree said. “We will be able to have that done at 6:00 in the morning on Friday. We also have buy online, pickup in store.”
Stores like Old Navy and Bass Pro Shop are spreading out their deals to avoid the usual Black Friday crowds. That’s on top of other precautions, like frequent sanitizing and guided traffic flows.
“So we’re going to be asking everyone to be over six feet apart, make sure they are cognizant of the crowds. We’re going to be at 75% capacity, which is less than we’ve gone before,” Nashville Bass Pro Shop general manager Terry Coughlin said. “We’re also doing more one-way traffic through our stores so that it isn’t just a big group of people and we have a flow. We also strategically place things throughout our store so it’s not all in one area either.”
Bass Pro Shop kept their doors open on Thanksgiving to help avoid crowds on Black Friday and to keep tradition alive.
The Doolittle family visits every year with their children to have their picture taken with Santa. This year, that meant making an appointment online and visiting him through plexiglass.
“I mean it’s tradition,” Kay Doolittle said. “Even though COVID’s going on you know they’re only young once, so we still come out… we’re wearing a mask… If we follow the rules, it’s going to get better, but when we don’t follow the rules, it’s going to take longer.”
Even though holiday shopping looks a lot different this year, some retailers say they’ve seen an increase in product demand.
“So many people learned to love the outdoors again this year,” Coughlin said. “From hiking and camping and hunting and fishing. It’s just been something that has taken place during this pandemic is people are just loving the outdoors again and we’re able to provide the tools to be successful and to have fun out there.”
Old Navy is also working to keep up with new demands, which includes having extra staff on hand to keep up with curbside and contactless shopping.
“Doing Black Friday as many times as I have, it’s one of those things where you just come in, do everything we can to make that safe shopping experience for the customer,” Goostree said.
Despite the inconvenience this season might bring, Dr. Schaffner offers a message of hope.
“We can overcome this,” Dr. Schaffner said. “There’s light at the end of the tunnel; vaccines are available down the road. Next year we’ll be better. This year, let’s make the accommodations because we want all those family members around us next year.”
COVID-19 in Tennessee
(This reflects what the TDH is reporting each day at 2 p.m. CST )
Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.