The 2020 holiday season is, of course, shaping up to be very different than any on record. Instead of mobbed department stores, mall Santas, and Black Friday doorbuster deals, most retailers are opting to try and manage crowd size while still offering services and products to meet customers’ holiday needs. And for many brands, that means rethinking their holiday strategies entirely. Walmart, Nordstrom and Target are three of the biggest brick-and-mortar retailers around. See how they’re innovating their retail in-store experience to navigate a truly unprecedented holiday season.

Walmart Pops Up to Help Customers Avoid Crowds

When most people think of Walmart, they think of its massive retail stores. But Walmart’s ubiquity in America means the brand is also sitting on quite a bit of real estate with its distribution centers as well. This holiday season, Walmart is putting that space to good use by turning 42 regional distribution centers into pop-up ecommerce distribution centers.

Instead of just shipping large quantities of merchandise to stores, Walmart will also use the spaces to ship ecommerce orders. The retailer expects as much as 30% of its holiday sales to be shipped from these temporary distribution hotspots.

Nordstrom: Emphasizing the Full Experience

This year, Nordstrom‘s highly anticipated holiday gift guide focuses on providing customers with personal touches. These include virtual interactions with stylists as well as both curbside pickup and gift wrapping.

While customers’ kids can’t sit on Santa’s lap, they can talk to him via video chat. A 15-minute call costs $20 with the proceeds benefiting Operation Warm and Big Brothers Big Sisters. Shoppers can also hand-deliver letters to Santa via curbside pickup.

Target: Putting Safety First

Target is going the distance to make sure customers maintain that crucial six feet of separation. This holiday season, Target customers can check online to see how crowded their local Target is before making the trip.

The retailer also plans to double the number of parking spaces allotted to curbside pickup, reducing trips inside. For those shoppers who do need to pop inside, Target now offers the option to scan items with smartphones rather than use the communal scanners in the shared checkout line.

The tough realities of the pandemic means that retail employees and customers alike are naturally feeling a bit cautious during what is normally the most wonderful time of the year. By adapting, retailers can offer customers a much-needed return a little bit of normalcy by creating a bit of holiday magic with a personal touch.