A Black Friday Like no Other

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Good morning. The holiday season is here. And we look at how Black Friday is different this year.

It’s Black Friday, the typical start of the holiday shopping season. But as with so many other things, this year’s version will not look like it usually does.

Black Friday has traditionally been about in-person shopping. “Touching stuff, browsing for the family, the whole experience: Those are literally all of the things we’re telling people to avoid,” Sapna Maheshwari, who covers retail for The Times, told me.

Some Americans will still go out today. Many already went to malls last weekend to get ahead of potential holiday crowds, according to The Wall Street Journal. But others are following the advice of public health experts and moving even more of their shopping online.

And retailers are adjusting. Macy’s, for example, has turned at least two of its locations — in Delaware and Colorado — into fulfillment centers, where employees process orders to ensure faster delivery, and where customers can pick up online purchases. In Ohio, Amazon opened a fulfillment center earlier this month and the company has gone on a hiring spree this year, bringing its global work force to more than 1.2 million people.

The big question is how many of the pandemic shopping habits will endure. Some of them most likely will, retail analysts say. “A lot of people have learned how to online shop this year, just like they learned how to Zoom and FaceTime with their families,” Sapna says.

But it’s also important not to exaggerate the trend. In-person shopping is still an enjoyable experience. Many people will miss it this weekend — and will happily return to it once a coronavirus vaccine is widely available.

For more: The Times is covering Black Friday around the U.S. today.


The Virus

Over the past month, virus cases have increased tenfold in Buffalo and its surrounding suburbs. “The second wave is here, and it is here with a vengeance,” Mark Poloncarz, the county executive, said.

The pandemic has displaced millions of migrants. The Times followed a Venezuelan mother and her 6-year-old son as they traveled more than 1,500 miles into Colombia and back, nearly all of it on foot.

Lamar Jackson, the Baltimore Ravens quarterback, tested positive — one of more than a dozen players on the team to do so.

Other Big Stories

A 5 to 4 Supreme Court ruling this week that rejected New York’s coronavirus restrictions on religious services exposed new dividing lines at the court. Justice Amy Coney Barrett cast the decisive vote — and it was almost certainly a taste of things to come.

An Algerian couple who survived the capsizing of a boat on its way from Libya to Europe last month will be reunited with their wedding rings, which rescuers found in a backpack floating in the Mediterranean.

The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York was confined to a single city block, only a snippet of its traditional 2.5-mile route. There were no high school bands, and about 130 balloon handlers instead of the usual 2,000.

Archaeologists found a grave and more than 12,000 artifacts, including an ink bottle, doll fragments and coins, at the site of a historic Black church in Colonial Williamsburg.

Morning Reads

Modern Love: A daughter finds a connection to her lost father in chicken nuggets.

From Opinion: If you missed hugging your loved ones on Thanksgiving, this short documentary about family, music and America may help.

Lives Lived: James Wolfensohn escaped a financially pinched Australian childhood to become a top Wall Street deal maker and a two-term president of the World Bank. And in 1956, he fenced at the Olympics. He has died at 86.

Subscribers make our reporting possible, so we can help you make sense of the moment. If you’re not a subscriber, please consider becoming one today.


Gifts for the coming months of pandemic life

Many people will still be stuck at home for much of the next few months. So we asked Christine Cyr Clisset, an editor at Wirecutter, for suggestions of holiday gifts that will make those months more tolerable. Here’s her advice:

Low-cost options. A portable phone charger or touchscreen gloves can cost less than $30 and can help you be outdoors. An apron or pepper mill can spruce up your kitchen, and a smart bulb can improve a room’s ambience.

Connect with others. The Google Nest Hub Max and Alexa Echo Show 8 offer intuitive ways for younger children or less tech-savvy people to have virtual conversations. One Wirecutter editor uses the Nest Hub Max to bake bread with her uncle.

Spruce up your home. Try a movie projector for a home theater experience or a milk frother for at-home lattes to summon the memory of your favorite cafe. If the weather lets you spend time outside, consider a portable hammock, smokeless fire pit or camping tent.

For more: See Wirecutter’s Black Friday coverage or its guide to inexpensive gifts for kids. You can subscribe to its newsletter here.


What to Cook

This sandwich full of yesterday’s prized leftovers may be even better than the main event.

To Read

Here are seven new books to watch for in December.

To Watch

“Saved by the Bell” is back. “The revival improves on the beloved, goofy original with a self-aware spin and a modern sensibility,” Margaret Lyons, a television critic for The Times, writes.

And a Moment to Stretch

Read about Adriene Mishler, the reigning queen of pandemic yoga.

Now Time to Play

The pangram from yesterday’s Spelling Bee was normally. Today’s puzzle is above — or you can play online if you have a Games subscription.

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Fuzzy buzzers (four letters).

Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. We will be back on Monday. — Claire

P.S. The final six-word essay from yesterday’s collection was a marriage proposal — and she said yes! Congratulations to Lauren Few and Taylor Hollenkamp from San Diego.

You can see today’s print front page here.

No new episode of “The Daily” today — it’s back on Monday.

Lalena Fisher, Ian Prasad Philbrick and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at themorn[email protected].

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