COVID-19 changes holiday shopping trends in W. MI

WALKER, Mich. (WOOD) — In true fashion, the 2020 shopping season is shaping up different than in years past.

“It feels a little bizarre to be honest because we are used to it being so busy. We were talking about that when we first got here, but it’s a little eerie having it be so quiet,” said Rachael Knapp, a shopper at Meijer in Standale.

Stores across the region have changed up their traditional holiday shopping rollout.

“We’ve extended our shopping week. Instead of having Black Thursday, Black Friday, we’ve had Black Friday all week. We’re extending the savings to our customers throughout the week,” said Meijer Store Director Bill Pacheco.

Even Meijer, which is normally open 24 hours a day, shut down at 4 p.m. Thursday and won’t reopen until 6 a.m. Friday.

“This year, instead of having limited amount of merchandise at a few days of shopping, we’ve extended those items to last all week. Keeping people safe so we don’t have larger crowds in the building,” Pacheco said.

A shopping trio at Meijer did have safety and deals at the top of their minds Thursday morning.

“I feel safe. We’ve all been in the same house for months now together and everyone has their masks on. And there are great deals out here, so we have to be out here, we have to get this,” Danielle Marlink said.

Those with Meijer say they have noticed a shift in trends: people are shopping in smaller groups and buying different things, such as more groceries and more home decor.

“I’m actually a little bit sad that Black Friday isn’t Black Friday like it used to be when we used to go through the newspaper on Thursday after dinner and picking out where we wanted to run and getting up super early and hitting the deals, but we’ve kind of started some new tradition and here we are,” said shopper Monica Marlink.

For some, not much has changed as they are still helping their friends score the best deals. Suzanne Tiesma was shopping for her friend Thursday morning, all while aware of the current situation.

“You can’t throw a stone without knowing someone who has it,” Tiesma said.

For that reason, some places have decided to switch things up this year.

“Our decision was made to be respectful and responsible to our shoppers and our brands in the current environment,” said Randy Zimmerman with Tanger Outlets.

Since it first opened in 2015, this is the first year Tanger Outlets in Byron Center will not be opened on Thanksgiving for holiday shopping.

“It was definitely a difficult decision to make, but you know, it was the right decision,” Zimmerman said.

When they do open Friday morning, there are safety measures in place to keep shoppers safe from the spread of COVID-19.

“We anticipate being busy. But we have put some traffic control things in place. We have extra security, we’ve got all of our social distancing and all of our contract cleaning things in place. A lot of our retailers have people at the doors to control the occupancy going into the stores,” Zimmerman said.