A Guide to Holiday Shopping in a Pandemic


Dutch Robinson

Masked shoppers frequent local stores when not shopping online.

Ella Lehrich, Contributing Writer

The pandemic is a colossal bump in the road that is 2020. And now, around the holiday season, shopping, family, and businesses that are usually booming have been completely shut down. Most years, people love to spend hours roaming around in shops searching for the perfect gift, but sadly this year none of that can be done. It seems like the whole world has been turned on its head.

Indeed, stores are being forced to improvise ways to still make enough money throughout this season. During regular times, before 2020, many stores made a large chunk of their yearly profits during the holidays. One of these places is the Harvard Square Bookstore. They are famous for their holiday sale the two weeks before Christmas. They were forced to do whatever they could to try and stay open, despite new COVID-19 restrictions. If that meant moving the holiday sale a month early then they would do it. “We encourage our customers to shop as early as possible, since we won’t have a busy, bustling, full bookstore as we would in a typical year,” says Alex W. Meriwether, general manager of the store. The pandemic has shifted the schedules and lives of both shoppers and business owners.

Shops have begun to focus more on their online work than their in-person shop work.”

Family gatherings have also taken a hit due to the pandemic. People still want to be able to see their families, so many have started self-quarantining at home. “Keep friends and family healthy: isolate,” said Dr. Jay C. Butler of the CDC. With less exposure to COVID-19, people feel that they will be able to spend more time with people they care about around the holidays. One negative impact of this is that a lot fewer people are going out to places, being consumers and spending money at their local businesses. Businesses are overall getting much less foot traffic than what they normally would during the holidays. 

The biggest side effect of the decrease of in-person shopping is an explosive increase in usage of online shopping. CRLS Freshman Amy Zhou says, “online shopping has been really helpful for safely shopping for the holidays.” This is one of the reasons why online businesses are doing well now, too. Felicia H. from Henry Bear’s Park, a local toy shop, stated, “Our in-store traffic is lower and online traffic higher.” Shops have begun to focus more on their online work than their in-person shop work. “Online sales are expected to grow between 25% and 30% and account for nearly 17% of total retail sales this year,” says Megan Cerullio from CBS news

These holidays aren’t going to look like people have seen before. This doesn’t mean that everything has to close, or that things can’t still be fun. Stores and people are doing what they can to try and make the holidays as normal as possible.