KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Debe Orosco did not expect to be the first person in line outside Academy Sports + Outdoors in Overland Park, Kansas, when she and her daughter showed up about 45 minutes before the store opened on Black Friday.
“We’ve never been first in line, that’s different for us,” Orosco said.
Turns out, there was a lot different about Black Friday in 2020. The coronavirus pandemic forced retailers and shoppers to make changes.
First, most major stores closed on Thanksgiving Day. In the past, Black Friday deals began on Thanksgiving. Instead, this year, most retailers offered Black Friday deals all week long.
Academy Sports + Outdoors did offer a few sales only after the doors opened at 5 a.m. Friday, like 60% off a billiards table.
This Black Friday, every person inside a store was wearing a face covering.
Oak Park Mall opened at 6 a.m., but without big crowds. One shopper, who brought her son with her, said the experience was a lot different than she expected.
“I wish (my son) could see it in its heyday when the doors come open and everyone pours in and stuff. This is just a much calmer event than what I’m used to,” Rhonda said.
Stores like Victoria’s Secret and Bath and Body Works limited capacity inside their stores at Oak Park Mall to ensure social distancing, a tenet of disease control. Several businesses had staff members at the entrance counting the number of people coming and going. Customers had to wait in the mall concourse before entering those individual stores.
Shoppers didn’t mind the wait. Most were happy the mall wasn’t packed.
“It’s way better than I expected,” Alexander Stone said. “The other day when I came here, it was extremely packed and I couldn’t get around, so I ended up leaving. When I came here today, I was pleasantly surprised at how little people are actually here.”
While fewer people seemed to participate in the annual holiday shopping event, the kickoff to the gift-giving season carried on for traditionalists.