What's The Risk Of Black Friday Shopping?

In our series "What's the Risk?" experts weigh in on what risks different scenarios pose for transmitting COVID-19.
Posted at 9:46 AM, Nov 30, 2020

As the holiday season begins, you might be wondering about the risks of getting sick with COVID-19 as you make plans to celebrate. 

We asked the experts, what’s the risk of shopping in person on Black Friday?

Their take: shopping in person is high risk.

"Your online shopping is going to be your safest bet," said Dr. Iahn Gonsenhauser, chief quality and patient safety officer at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. 

"It will really depend on where you are locally and if you have a mask mandate that's there to protect you. And again, if we think about historically the number of people shopping, the crowds, the lines, it could be very difficult to effectively socially distance during that time to decrease your risk effectively of getting COVID 19," Dr. Kelly Cawcutt, infectious disease specialist at Nebraska Medicine, said.

"You're going to want to really do a little bit of research, possibly even call ahead at a time and ask them what they're going to be doing to try and make it as safe as they can and mitigate that risk. If they're not telling you that they are going to have restrictions on how many people can be in the store, how they're going to space out their lines, how they're going to make the register process and the payment process as distant, socially distant as possible — you're going to want to consider whether or not that's a risk you're willing to take again," Gonsenhauser said.

"My personal bias would be to avoid Black Friday in person. Most stores have online shopping, do take their online deals. And I'm sure I'm sure retailers will be having some nicer online deals as well," Dr. Irfan Hafiz, infectious disease physician and Northwest Region chief medical officer at Northwestern Medicine, said. 

For more answers on what is low, medium, or high risk, visit