Walmart (WMT), the world's largest retailer, will host a "revamped" Black Friday to avoid those doorbuster crowds during the COVID-19 pandemic by prompting shoppers to seek holiday deals online and in less crowded stores.
Instead of a single in-store shopping bonanza, Walmart will spread its Black Friday across three separate events and multiple days in November. Called "Black Friday Deals for Days," the events will all start online before transitioning to in-stores a few days later. The big-box retailer will also offer shoppers contact-free, curbside pickup at its stores for Black Friday orders.
Black Friday has long been considered the unofficial kick-off to the holiday shopping season and one of the most crucial retail calendar periods. However, this year, the coronavirus pandemic is forcing retailers to rethink the holiday shopping event to avoid those large crowds. As a result, many retailers are getting a jumpstart on holiday deals online and spreading the savings throughout the season.
"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," Walmart's chief merchandising officer Scott McCall said in a press release.
Walmart's first Black Friday event kicks off on Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. ET online and will add more deals in stores on Nov. 7, beginning at 5 a.m. local time, while the second event starts on online on Nov. 11 and hits stores on Nov. 14 at the same start times.
During the third event, deals will drop online on Nov. 25 at 7 p.m. ET with more to follow at midnight and again in stores at 5 a.m. local time on Nov. 27, on what is officially Black Friday. Walmart announced earlier this year that it would close its entire fleet of stores on Thanksgiving Day.
Before store doors open at 5 a.m. local time for the in-store event days, customers will be required to line up in a single, straight line. Shoppers will also receive a pre-sanitized shopping cart from a store associate.
The company's Health Ambassadors will be on-site at the entrances to enforce the company-wide facial covering policy.
Walmart will monitor and limit the number of customers inside the stores. Once inside the stores, shoppers will also be directed down the aisles' right side, just like traffic on the road. The main aisles, known as "action alley," will feature the "grab-and-go" deal items.
At the checkout, there won't be a queue for lines. Associates will direct shoppers to open registers and the nearest exit.
Julia La Roche is a correspondent for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.