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Black Friday perspective important

Black Friday always has been synonymous with large crowds waiting outside in darkness and cold temperatures in hopes of having the opportunity to buy “that special Christmas gift” for someone.

The Friday after Thanksgiving has been regarded as the start of this country’s Christmas shopping season since 1952, although the term “Black Friday” was not coined until years later.

Although online shopping and the home-shopping television networks have taken a bite out of the excitement of this day, many area people will be keeping today’s tradition alive as they patronize the brick-and-mortar stores they have known — and been loyal yo — for many years.

It is important for that loyalty to remain intact, even with the limitations imposed by the hated coronavirus pandemic that currently is running roughshod over the nation.

The packed-together crowds in front of stores hours before they open must not be part of today’s Black Friday shopping; such close contact poses a terrible risk of COVID-19 infection.

There are safe ways to enjoy Black Friday, and good judgment must prevail.

Still, keep in mind that holiday shopping often is a make-or-break time for merchants, and patronizing local stores will increase the odds that those merchants will be here for Black Friday bargains next November, when hopefully the pandemic will be a scourge of the past.

It has not been a good year.

To some people one fact might evoke unwanted humor — that shopping for dwindling supplies of bathroom tissue and paper towels and limits on the purchase of those products.

Indeed, some shoppers will be placing as much emphasis on such purchases as with electronics, new-household-appliance and other top-priority gift ideas.

A news report out of New York earlier this month used two words to describe the search for toilet paper: “Good luck.”

While such critical shortages have not been identified here — at least not widespread — the rising coronavirus infection and death statistics being recorded in area counties at this time might cause serious availability dilemmas in coming weeks.

The prospect of such shortages is no laughing matter.

Then there is the issue of Black Friday travel. It was recommended that travel related to Thanksgiving be limited, so perhaps a silver lining for area merchants will be fewer shoppers venturing to stores in places like Greensburg, Monroeville and Pittsburgh — thus spending their holiday-shopping dollars here.

Other points deserving reflection:

According to a Nov. 18 Wall Street Journal article, U.S. retail sales rose in October at their slowest pace since the spring, “another sign the nation’s economic recovery is losing steam as coronavirus cases surge across the country.”

Prior to that, on Nov. 9, under the headline “Crisis changes how people give to others,” the Journal reported that “feelings of financial guilt have plagued many prospering in the uneven economic recovery.”

A financial planner from Madison, Wis., was quoted as saying, “Some of my clients have expressed feelings of survivor’s guilt, wondering why they are doing so well when others aren’t.”

Today — Black Friday 2020 — is going to send what might or might not be a hopeful message, looking ahead to the remainder of the holiday shopping season.

No doubt Santa Claus is watching, too.

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