Black Friday shopping has been a post-Thanksgiving tradition for many Illinois families for decades, but this year with the COVID-19 pandemic, will have a different look.

Gone will be the long lines waiting for stores to open, as health officials encourage more online shopping. Online sales have reportedly spiked as many Illinois consumers avoid shopping at brick-and-mortar stores.

Jill Gonzalez, an analyst with the personal finance website WalletHub, said the pandemic and the ease of shopping online will change the look of Black Friday.

“Certainly having people line up and big doorbuster deals, I just don’t think we will be seeing that this year,” she said.

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Retailers in Illinois are limited to 25 percent capacity due to restrictions imposed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker. As a result, many stores have opted to spread deals out over several days.

Kathleen Cullen, senior director of Industry and Commerce with the National Retail Federation, said some stores did not survive state-imposed restrictions.

“We saw that retailers who were categorized as essential and allowed to stay open have fared much better overall than those who were forced to shutdown,” Cullen said.

The nonpartisan Illinois Policy Institute found Illinois has 11,200 fewer retail business owners compared to last year, a drop of 61%. Bar and restaurant ownership took an even bigger hit, with over 17,000 of Illinois’ bars and restaurants closed compared to 2019.

Bryce Hill, senior research analyst at Illinois Policy Institute, said Small Business Saturday offers a moment to focus on the value of these businesses bring to the economy.

“Raising taxes during a recession is the wrong thing to do for small businesses across the state, especially because many of them are struggling to keep the door open,” Hill said. “With so many local businesses and workers damaged by the COVID-19 downturn, it is imperative that lawmakers commit to avoiding the future harm tax hikes will do to businesses and jobs.”

(Copyright WBGZ Radio /