Although Americans traveled for Thanksgiving Day, most reports around the country show a more subdued Black Friday than in past years due to the pandemic. There have been reports of Americans lining up for new video game systems, but some stores see zero lines as Americans would rather shop online. Some Twitter users shared shocking photos showing empty malls and no lines in front of stores, a stark difference from just one year ago.
Shopping online was already on the rise before the pandemic, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised Americans to shop online instead of in stores. Many retailers also chose to stay closed on Thanksgiving after years of stores opening earlier and earlier for doorbuster deals. "This is really happening ... there are not huge lines wrapped around buildings. Consumers have adapted very quickly," Coresight Research founder Deborah Weinswig told CNBC. "I took a video in Bed Bath & Beyond, and there’s nobody in the whole store. Walmart had no holiday decor, no Christmas music ... you wouldn’t have known it was Black Friday."
There were only a few cars outside a Best Buy store near the Ford City Mall in Chicago, and just a few customers picking up electronics curbside, reports the Chicago Tribune. One customer, Maria Lopez, described the scene as "sad" compared to past years. "I’ve been out since 6 a.m. and there were no long lines," he told the Tribune. "It’s definitely not the same like years prior."
@WFMY @julie_luck @EricChilton @EdMatthews2 @staceyspivey @MeghannMollerus @TraceyMcCain Short line at Walmart in Burlington this morning. In and out in well under an hour. Most everyone masked. #BlackFriday pic.twitter.com/ojvZx8nlis— Derek (@DT042674) November 27, 2020
Some video gamers still lined up for a chance to get a PlayStation 5 or XBOX Series X System at GameStop stores. "I've been trying since the November 12th launch when the consoles came out and it’s just been really hard," Dominick Garcia told Click2Houston. Another shopper told the outlet, "It’s been a tough year, so I wanted to take a chance."prevnext
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but we are seeing lines & people camped out outside stores this Black Friday. Also a lot of police here in Germantown. They are here to keep order especially with #COVID19 precautions in place. We are live in minutes on @ABC7GMW #BlackFriday pic.twitter.com/cZEekReWE1— John Gonzalez (@ABC7John) November 27, 2020
In Portage, Michigan, shoppers told WWMT they felt safe shopping as long as they were wearing their masks. Dozens of people lined up outside stores there. Ruth Hinz said she was looking for toys for her grandchildren and had been shopping on Black Fridays for the past 15 years. The pandemic was not going to stop her. "I feel safe, I have my mask," she said.prevnext
While the situation might not look great on Black Friday, the National Retail Federation is still expecting retail sales to climb this holiday season between 3.6% and 5.2% from 2019. The group expects retail spending to total between $755.3 billion and $766.7 billion. The NRF estimated that 59% of shoppers started their holiday shopping in early November. Online and other non-store sales could increase between 20% to 30% over the past year, according to the NRF.prevnext
Never in my life have I known a time where people weren’t out shopping on Thanksgiving night. Some stores do have gates up ahead of tomorrow’s opening, but NO early lines, right now, ahead of #BlackFriday, and I’m kind of here for it! https://t.co/1A9DJyAS1I pic.twitter.com/AAuDDQ6Bwn— Christie Ileto (@Christie_Ileto) November 26, 2020
“We know this holiday season will be unlike any other, and retailers have planned ahead by investing billions of dollars to ensure the health and safety of their employees and customers,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “Consumers have shown they are excited about the holidays and are willing to spend on gifts that lift the spirits of family and friends after such a challenging year. We expect a strong finish to the holiday season, and will continue to work with municipal and state officials to keep retailers open and the economy moving forward at this critical time.”prevnext
We are at Mall Of America in Bloomington Minnesota. Very quiet. No rushes. pic.twitter.com/0FCmzvyrXQ— Paul Roiger (@PaulRoiger) November 27, 2020
One Twitter user reported seeing no customers rushing for deals at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. Consumer expert Marshal Cohen also shared photos of shorter lines outside a Target and Best Buy store. He suggested some consumers might be waiting for lunchtime to shop instead of rushing out first thing in the morning.
Black Friday might just turn into a lunch time activity instead of an early morning rush. Short lines at registers small crowds (if you can call them that) start Black Friday shoppers with specific bargains in mind. @npdretail #npdholiday— Marshal Cohen (@marshalcohen) November 27, 2020
A smaller scene than usual outside of Eastridge Center in San Jose on this pandemic #BlackFriday. Masks all around! Most of these people like Andrea and Fernando (first picture) have waited in line since midnight hoping to snag a Playstation 5 @sfchronicle pic.twitter.com/yanhL5QqN1— Jessica Christian (@jachristian) November 27, 2020
San Francisco Chronicle photojournalist Jessica Christian noted she saw shorter lines as well in San Jose, California. Most people she saw were waiting to get a PlayStation 5.prev