Black Friday shoppers will see some differences this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic but otherwise the holiday shopping tradition will go on as usual.

Belk began its Black Friday sales a week earlier, offering special deals beginning Nov. 20 and continuing through Nov. 28.

Belk stores will be closed to customers on Thanksgiving Day but open for curbside and in-store pickup orders from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Stores will open at 7 a.m. on Nov. 27 for Black Friday.

“There’s no doubt that this holiday is unlike any other and many customers are shopping earlier than ever this year,” said Belk spokeswoman Jenny Anderson. “We made sure we were ready for customers who wanted to begin crossing gifts off their lists earlier than usual.”

Anderson noted Belk is taking precautions to keep shoppers safe.

“To help protect shoppers and associates, Belk continues to implement safety measures recommended by the (Centers for Disease Control) and local health authorities,” she said.

Those measures include requiring all store associates to wear face coverings, closing fitting rooms, consolidating returns, posting physical distancing signage, and installing plexiglass shields, Anderson said.

“We also have limited entrances into the store with a dedicated team member monitoring and greeting customers to meter and manage limited occupancy,” she said.

Contactless curbside pickup at Belk allows customers to buy online and pick up their merchandise curbside or in-store that same day.

Michelle Torres, manager of the Shoe Dept Encore at Southgate Park shopping center, said the store also plans to observe Black Friday while seeking to keep shoppers and employees safe.

“It’s definitely going to be different this year,” Torres said.

She said the store has been seeing a lot of in-store shoppers even as people take precautions in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One thing she has noticed is that if a shopper’s size is not available when they come in, they are more likely to order it right then rather than saying they will just come back later.

“They would rather order it at the moment rather than come back,” she said.

The local Shoe Dept Encore will have an extended Black Friday sale that includes Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Nov. 28, and Sunday, Nov. 29. Hours will be 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday. The store will be closed Thanksgiving Day.

The store is encouraging customers to take appropriate COVID precautions.

“We’re asking people to keep their distance and to wear their mask,” Torres said.

There is a sign on the door encouraging mask-wearing, she said, “but we’re not, ‘hey! put a mask on!’”

Walmart will open at 5 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 27 and will limit the number of customers inside the store to promote social distancing.

“Customers will be directed to shop down the right-hand side of the aisles to easily and safely select the Black Friday items they want to buy,” the company stated.