HAMPTON ROADS, Va.— It’s been a Black Friday like never seen before. The long lines and big crowds that mark the discount shopping holiday were noticeably much smaller as health officials cautioned holiday shopping during a pandemic could come at a high cost.
The mad dash for deals was more of a calm walk and wait for many shoppers Friday morning.
At Norfolk Premium Outlets, lines were set up outside stores to limit the number of shoppers inside and allow for social distancing. Hand sanitizer stations, mask requirements and social distancing reminders were just some of the pandemic safety measure in place.
Customers who arrived at 6 a.m. when the stores opened say they were able to walk into shops without a wait.
Experts say in-person Black Friday shopping has become less popular over the past few years as many people turn to online shopping, especially to avoid the possibility of crowds during the pandemic.
Still, the day is a tradition for some shoppers that provides an important sense or normalcy in a year that is marked by immense changes in routine.
One woman says the delayed gratification with online shopping is the reason she decided to come to stores at MacArthur Center in Downtown Norfolk.
“I can be impatient sometimes, so waiting on shipping and ordering the right stuff can be a minute. So, I was like, 'I’ll just come out today,'" said Callie Poole.
Poole said she found parking easily, didn’t notice a crowd and none of the lines were too long for her liking.
The CDC says going shopping in crowded stores around thanksgiving is a “higher risk activity” and is encouraging online shopping to help prevent the spread of coronavirus during this time.