WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — In the past, Black Friday was historically the start of the holiday shopping season. But with COVID-19 big box stores offered major deals on-line weeks in advance. But that hasn’t stopped the lines on Friday.
Many stores and malls across South Florida opened early and welcoming shoppers like Manny Casillas who arrived at West Palm’s Beest Buy at 4:30 am.
”People love deals so they’re going to shop,” Casillas said. I’m happy I have my Christmas presents basically. I think people absolutely love Black Friday deals — especially with the economy down. People want to buy the best deals that are out there right now. So a little extra here and there.”
Many shoppers left happy. Others like Carole Davis who came to Best Buy for a $119.99 laptop left empty-handed.
”Every store from here to Port St. Lucie is all sold out,” Davis said.
It’s proof shoppers are hunting. And stores are safely welcoming them. This month the CDC added “shopping in crowded stores” to its list of higher-risk activities. They also added attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside your household and attending crowded parades.
Malls and stores have anticipated these updates months in advance. Masks and facial coverings are required, there are also social distancing markers, hand sanitizer stations, and other things to keep shoppers safe at places WPTV visited.
In terms of deals, experts say to expect them and all weekend long. And If you’re still in bed, on the couch, or at work right now you’re not alone.
RetailMeNot.com reports 88-percent of people don’t plan to take advantage of Friday’s deals at the stores. But experts warn, if you plan to shop online there are things you should know: Don’t take a retailer’s final price, as the only price. Shoppers need to compare store prices.
Second, if you’re pressed for time to get an item — check the processing time as well as the shipping. COVID-19 has slowed delivery times, and the holidays are no exception.
Third, when shopping online - you risk not liking an item. So you’ll want to check the policies for returns to include; Does the retailer do free returns? And what is the window for returns?
Meanwhile, West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James has issued a proclamation declaring Nov. 28 ‘Small Business Saturday.’ He said in light of unprecedented public health challenges everyone in the city is encouraged to shop small. And promote the weekend online using #ShopSmall and/or #SmallBizSat.
”It is very scary because it’s not just the business owners — it’s the employees of those businesses. And each one of those employees represents a family and so you just have an exponential effect. And that’s why I say now more than ever we need to support our local small businesses,” James said. “We know you’re going to spend the dollars — try to spend them locally and with small businesses."