Burlington business opts out of in-person Black Friday shopping

Common Deer in Downtown Burlington says they have always been an online forward company.
Published: Nov. 27, 2020 at 8:27 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Black Friday is typically the kickoff to the holiday shopping season, but COVID-19 and restricted travel have more people jumping on computers to fill a cart.

Common Deer in downtown Burlington says they have always been an online forward company and this year, with COVID cases on the rise, they have opted out of the in-person shopping through the weekend.

“Typical Black Friday and Small Business Saturday has bumper to bumper traffic in the store,” said Sarah Beal, the co-owner of Common Deer.

She says this year has been tough for them financially due to restrictions, but they are choosing to opt out of the traditional kickoff of the holiday shopping season.

“We are still so excited, but for us, we have made the choice to not have our doors open, even to appointment traffic,” said Beal.

Beal cites Thanksgiving as being a time to gather and downtown Burlington as a hot tourist spot. Even with the governor’s guidance, she says she couldn’t risk people coming through. Although it’s a financial risk, she wants to put the health of her family and employees first.

“And for us, we are choosing that we are going to focus on online, and hopefully keep our team and our community safe,” said Beal.

Beal says Common Deer is used to being online.

During this pandemic, they have been able to up their online inventory from 30% of the total inventory to 80%, meaning more options to order or pick up curbside.

So for consumers choosing online over in-store this holiday season, some businesses will meet them in the middle.

“Be prepared to accept those phone calls. make the ability to communicate with you and your company easy for your consumers,” said Mathew Newfield, the chief information security officer for Unisys Corporation.

He says for small businesses dealing in the online world more than ever before, transparency with customers is key and for those shopping small, or large, protecting yourself can be as easy as reaching out.

“Call if you have questions or concerns about something you are buying or the safety of that website or about how they are going to process that credit card information,” said Newfield.

Beal says finding a way to shop small this Black Friday, even online, is crucial.

“We are calling it small season, so this is really the season to show up for small business,” said Beal.

Beal says they fully understand why other local businesses are staying open for Black Friday and that they will be taking precautions to stop the spread.

Online Safety

Newfield says the first thing you should do if you think you’ve been scammed is to take a deep breath. He says scams happen most often when you panic, so staying calm while shopping is crucial.

“When you are looking at a website, when you get information, when you get an email, when you get a text, when you get a phone call, don’t overreact. Adversaries are playing on those fears, they are playing on certain key elements of their communication to try to get you to respond quickly,” said Newfield.

Other safety tips include:

  • Use antivirus and blocking software where possible
  • Better to use a credit card than a debit card because you are dealing with a bill as opposed to your money.
  • No reason to save your information to a website unless you are sure you will shop there again.
  • Look for multifactor authentication with your mobile phone or email.

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