Retailers take steps to 'avoid a crowd' on Black Friday amid COVID-19

Black Friday marks the official start to the holiday shopping season -- but like so many things, it looks much different in 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Typically, you'll see Black Friday shoppers camped out for a good deal at Best Buy on Thanksgiving Day, but in 2020, FOX6 News found an empty parking lot.

Meijer was one of the few places open on Thanksgiving, from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"It's been an interesting year, and it's not going to stop anytime soon," said Phil Kelley, store director. "I know a lot of competition is closed today so they can be with their families, and that's awesome, but a lot of our customers rely on us to get those last-minute needs, so we need to be here for them, as well."

Phil Kelley

Kelley said TVs were still the most popular item during Thanksgiving Week 2020, but you no longer have to wait until after the turkey for a deal. 

"Everything is totally different this year," said Kelley. "We're trying to do a lot of things so that we don't have the lines, we don't have the crowds that we normally do."  

Small businesses are also doing things differently. 

"You just want to avoid a crowd this year," said Claire Koenig. "I hope everyone is going to try to do that."

Claire Koenig

Koenig with VISIT Milwaukee said she hopes people adjust their shopping plans to shop safe and think local. 

"Just every time that you can, try and support a local business," said Koenig. "Try and order that takeout brunch instead of cooking. Try to buy from a local artist or a local maker when you can because it makes a difference this year probably more than most years."

VISIT Milwaukee has put together a shop local gift guide where you can browse local businesses that either ship or do curbside pickup.