As the novel coronavirus makes a comeback in cold weather and COVID-19 cases are on the rise, Walmart (WMT -0.80%) has completely changed its Black Friday sale for 2020. Rather than taking place on a single day, Black Friday savings have been stretched out over three separate "events" in November, and the final event will feature a large number of "doorbuster deals" moved entirely online.

Many high-demand gift items traditionally sought by throngs of eager shoppers the day after Thanksgiving will instead appear in online sales beginning on Nov. 25 and running through Nov. 27.

Electronics such as the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5, both of which are set to release this week but with reduced assortments of games due to pandemic disruptions to development efforts, will be available online only on Nov. 25 and Nov. 26, before becoming available in store on Nov. 27, according to the retailer's 12-page Black Friday Deals For Days flier. Other online-only doorbusters include smart TVs, Fitbit watches, cookware sets, and electronics.

An outdoor pickup sign at a Walmart store.

Image source: Walmart.

The move comes at the same time Walmart is starting to limit the number of customers in its stores again. While it never technically ended its policy of having a maximum of 20% of normal capacity during the pandemic, the company stopped monitoring customer numbers during the summer, noting "the vast majority of the time our stores didn't reach our self-imposed 20% metering capacity" according to a company statement to CNBC.

Walmart has profited through the COVID-19 outbreak like other big retailers, but has also strongly enhanced its e-commerce and online ordering, including its Walmart+ subscription service, in apparent determination to stay competitive through the "retail apocalypse" accelerated this year by the coronavirus.