How the pandemic is changing Walmart's Black Friday sale

Ever since the 1950s, Black Friday has been a massive day for deals and discounts. Holiday shoppers trying to get the best prices on gifts for their family and friends crowd the stores, some of them lining up for hours to make sure they can grab the hottest-ticket items before they're sold out. For years, Walmart's Black Friday sales have been tremendously popular, as thrift-minded shoppers can get everything from the newest electronics to home appliances and children's toys at steep discounts. Walmart also draws crowds like no other place.

Of course, everyone loves getting a great deal on an item, but these kinds of crowds are particularly dangerous this year. In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, gathering in large groups, especially in an enclosed, indoor space like a retail store, is exactly the sort of thing people should avoid doing. These kinds of gatherings increase the chance of transmitting the disease, and many people believe it's just not worth risking the lives of their family and friends simply to save a few bucks.

Walmart executives seem to agree. That's why this year, with COVID-19 in mind, Walmart is changing the way they do their annual Black Friday sale. This year, Walmart announced they are introducing the revamped "Black Friday Deals for Days" experience. Rather than clustering all the discounts onto one single day, they are reinventing the sale into a three-step approach.

Walmart's Black Friday sales will be split into three parts

The first phase of this year's Black Friday sale will begin online on Wednesday, November 4, with deals like a 42-inch Roku TV for $88 and Hotel Style bath towels for just five dollars kicking off at 7 p.m. Eastern, per Walmart. These deals will continue in-store on Saturday, November 7, and additional sales will go live online that day. The second big sales event will begin on Wednesday, November 11, with Walmart offering discounts on electronic, home, apparel, and other items. These deals will be extended in-store on Saturday, November 14, which also marks the launch of Walmart's Black Friday wireless phone sale.

Walmart's final Black Friday event kicks off on the website Wednesday, November 25, and the in-store deals will launch at 5 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving, November 27. By spreading out the deals in the weeks leading up Thanksgiving and also making them available for online purchase, the company hopes to avoid the massive crowds and enable every shopper to have a safe experience while still getting the holiday discounts they want.

As Walmart's executive vice president and chief merchandising officer Scott McCall told the Chattanooga Times Free Press: "We've been very thoughtful as we planned this year's event. By spreading deals out across multiple days and making our hottest deals available online, we expect the Black Friday experience in our stores will be safer and more manageable for both our customers and our associates."