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What Black Friday shopping will look like this year

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many retailers to change the way they do business.

MINNEAPOLIS — Over the years, we've gotten used to seeing unruly mobs of shoppers crowding stores on Black Friday. But this year will be different.

"Retailers are really thinking hard about how to make sure they prevent that kind of crowding that can happen on Black Friday,” NerdWallet personal finance expert Kim Palmer says.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced most retailers to change the way they do business, and Palmer says some of those changes are beneficial for customers. 

At Target, you can call ahead or check online to see what the lines are like at your local store. You can also reserve your spot in line, or you can use curbside pickup to avoid the lines altogether.

"A great strategy for Black Friday shoppers is to hop online early and place your order, lock it in, arrange for a curbside pickup, you skip the lines, you skip the stress, you already know what price you're paying and then you can relax and enjoy the day,” Palmer explains.

There still might be some “door-buster” deals that you can only get in store this year.

RELATED: Here are which stores are open, closed on Thanksgiving 2020

If you’re one of the diehard shoppers who enjoy getting involved in the spectacle that is Black Friday, Palmer says you still might find a steal of a deal by lining up early before the store opens.

But in most cases, she says retailers are offering the exact same deals online all month long.

“If there is something you know you really want for the holidays, you want to make sure you’re planning ahead and ordering it now, because we are seeing a lot of shortages and shipping delays,” Palmer explains.

The United States Postal Service is expecting to see a massive increase in mail this holiday season.

Not only gifts and large packages, but also letters and holiday greeting cards from family members who want to stay connected.

The holiday deadline for first class packages and letters is Dec.18th—the same as it was last year—but Palmer recommends sending those packages and cards early, because you just never know.

"You don't want to cut it too close because that's very stressful when you really want to celebrate the holidays."