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A pandemic push towards online sales as businesses still prepare for Black Friday

It won't be your ordinary Black Friday experience. Here's what you need to know if you plan on shopping in person.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It wasn't your traditional Thanksgiving, and it wasn't expected to be the ordinary Black Friday either. Retailers expect the pandemic to drive shoppers online, instead of to the stores, but businesses are prepping for those who decide to come in. 

"It's going to be completely different here," Charity Washington said. 

She's the owner of Captivate, a women's boutique in SouthPark Mall in Charlotte. 

She and other retailers and businesses are getting the last minute preparations set up for Black Friday, from making sure hand sanitizer stations are out, to moving clothes displays further apart to help every shopper keep their social distance. 

"Usually it's so packed, usually we're wanting people to come in, we want to pack the store out, we want to be helping 20, 30 customers at a time," Washington said.

But this year, they can't. 

"COVID has hit all the small business owners hard," she added. 

Safety measures will be the top priority at her boutique.

All employees will take their temperatures and wear masks. All shoppers must also wear masks, and there will be a capacity for how many people will be allowed inside the store. 

She isn't alone. Other stores are also putting health before profits.

"You're going to see social distancing, you're also going to see sanitation stations across the store and know that every single one of our employees has been issued PPE," said a spokeswoman for Macy's.

However, Americans are still skeptical, despite the precautions at stores. 

A Deloitte retail survey shows 57% of consumers are anxious about in-person shopping over the holidays due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus. 

The CDC is encouraging people to refrain from crowded in-person shopping and advocating for online and touchless shopping. 

The National Retail Federation is also encouraging people to shop safely.

"The last thing we want is for consumers to put themselves at risk or others at risk in a crowded store environment," said Katherine Cullen with the
National Retail Federation. 

The virus is causing a pandemic push for online sales which are expected to be up 20 to 30% over last year, according to the National Retail Federation.

Not all stores will be open on Thanksgiving like they were last year. Click here to see a list of the ones that are open and the others that are closed on Thanksgiving this year.

If you do decide to shop in-person on Black Friday, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has issued guidance. 

  • The department suggests shopping online or checking to see if a store offers curbside pick-up. 
  • Consider shopping at off-times when there are fewer people. 
  • Check to see if stores offer special hours for people with a high risk for severe illness. 
  • Wear a face covering and use hand sanitizer before and after shopping.

Kristin McGrath, the editor of BlackFriday.com, said she predicts this will be the year of the “curb buster” over the “doorbuster deal.”

"Consumers are kind of caught between worrying if their stuff is going to ship on time and not wanting to go in the stores,” McGrath said. "So with curbside pick up, you can order online, get your stuff as soon as the same day, have it loaded in your car." 

RELATED: Online sales to skyrocket ahead of Black Friday, industry experts predict

WCNC Charlotte's Kendall Morris contributed to this report.