Texas Tech University

Expert: To Maximize Safety and Sales, Retailers Opt for 'Black Friday Month'

Glenys Young

November 10, 2020

Robert Paul Jones

Robert Paul Jones is the chair of the Department of Hospitality and Retail Management and a nearly 30-year veteran of the retail industry.

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks dressed in holiday style may look very different as the shoppers rush home with their treasures this year.

Black Friday (Nov. 27), the traditional start of the holiday shopping season, won't have the usual "doorbuster" events with hundreds of strangers crowding together, huffing and puffing as they run through stores, multiple hands reaching for the same item. If you have to ask why, you've missed a lot in 2020.

That's not to say there won't be a significant holiday shopping season. In fact, the outlook for retailers is quite positive as people look to reward themselves for the year they've endured. But in many ways, the traditional shopping season has been turned on its head.

Texas Tech University's Robert Paul Jones, chair of the Department of Hospitality and Retail Management and president of the American Collegiate Retail Association, can help explain the changes and what they mean for shoppers and businesses alike, while providing advice for those looking to maximize their shopping. Prior to his career in academia, Jones spent nearly 30 years in the retail and hospitality industry with firms such as May Company, Dollywood, Shop at Home and Jewelry Television. He is active in many industry organizations, including the Texas Retailers Association, Texas Food and Fuel, the Texas Retailers Education Foundation and the Category Management Association.


Robert Paul Jones, chair of the Department of Hospitality and Retail Management, (806) 834- 8922 or robert.p.jones@ttu.edu

Talking points

  • Because of fears that coronavirus pandemic shutdown orders could force non-essential retailers to close, retailers are trying to avoid mass gatherings such as the single Black Friday event and are instead offering "Black Friday Month" savings throughout November.
  • Slowed production this year means some items, particularly appliances, may not be available until sometime in 2021.
  • As in previous years, the hottest items are technology related: personal computers and tablets, Wi-Fi mesh systems and voice-enabled products.
  • Tips:
    • Many retailers are placing certain categories of products on sale week by week, so keep an eye on desired items to avoid missing out on special pricing.
    • Shop early.
    • Set a budget and make targeted purchases.


  • "I want to remind everyone of the tremendous efforts retailers have undertaken to make their stores safe for shoppers and their employees. With a little extra precaution on your part, shopping in-store can be a safe activity. Remember your mask and hand sanitizer if hand washing is unavailable, and do your best to be socially distant, especially while waiting in line."
  • "Mail delivery has been in the news lately for the slowdown it has been experiencing. This could pose a significant problem for mail delivery from the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and USPS final mile deliveries. FedEx and UPS also have experienced shipping delays in recent years due to the volume of deliveries and weather. This holiday season will be no different on those two issues, however, the pandemic provides another twist. Keeping delivery people healthy and able to to their job could pose significant additional delivery problems. The best advice is to shop early for all of your online orders to ensure you will receive them on time."
  • "All economic indicators are poised for a big holiday spending spree. While children definitely will benefit as compensation for a difficult year, so will mom and dad. This season, expect a high volume of self-purchasing as a pick-me-up for haggard parents. Many have gone without during the pandemic and now they will feel like splurging."
  • "Many Americans are still facing an uncertain economic future. Now may not be the time to spend as freely on credit cards or spend down your cash reserves. It is always a good idea to set a budget you can comfortably support for your holiday shopping season."