Dressed in winter coats, blankets and masks, customers stood in line before stores opened for what has been called the busiest shopping day of the year. Lines could be seen outside large box stores like Best Buy and Walmart, as well as the West Acres Shopping Center.
However, the lines were shorter compared to previous years. That was expected.
Experts projected more people would shop online to avoid the crowds and, potentially, catching COVID-19. Deals also started earlier this year to help spread out the days of shopping.
Shoppers line up before the Black Friday sale begins Nov. 27 at Best Buy in Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Still, West Acres' parking lot started to fill up as the day unfolded, suggesting some may have just wanted to sleep in before heading to the stores.
West Acres Chief Operating Officer Alissa Adams described Friday as “consistently busy but definitely not crowded.”
“It definitely is following typical traffic trends of getting busier as the day progresses,” she said.
Shops typically draw large flocks of people on Black Friday. Many businesses adjusted traditional habits to help ease crowding inside brick and mortar stores during the pandemic.
That helped keep the shopping experience safe, Adams said.
“We’ve definitely seen a shift this year away from retailers putting all of their eggs in that one Black Friday basket,” Adams said.
Shops also may have limited the number of people that could go into a store at once to allow for social distancing.
The West Acres parking lot fills up Friday, Nov. 27 in Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Despite a pandemic threatening the Black Friday experience, The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicted this year's holiday season to set a record for spending. The world’s largest retail trade association forecast that shoppers would spend between $755.3 billion and $766.7 billion in November and December, up 3.6% to 5.2% from 2019, according to a Monday news release.
“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,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “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.”
Adams agreed. The job of West Acres is to make sure the holiday season is safe and fruitful for shoppers, she said.
“We anticipate it to be a different holiday shopping season but still a strong, positive one,” she said. "There's definitely still an appetite for holiday shopping."
The Forum Photo Editor Michael Vosburg contributed to this report.