Shoppers and stores try to strike balance between safety and convenience - NBC's Chris Pollone reports
NEW YORK, N.Y. (KYMA, KECY) - Like Black Fridays of years past, some retailers opened their doors before dawn. But instead of frenzied scenes of shoppers fighting for a handful of bargains, 2020 saw smaller crowds with social distancing and mask rules enforced as much as possible.
"It was very calm, no one is pushing, no one is trying to outrun because there is nobody in the store. This I can do every year." said one shopper.
Retailers have been planning for the since the pandemic hit. Many offering their best deals online, over a much longer period, trying to keep shoppers out of stores as much as possible.
"We saw earlier this year, retailers really adapting, very, very quickly to the change in environment." said Matthew Shay, President and CEO of the National Retail Federation.
So far this month, online shoppers have spent more than $60-billion dollars. Sales are expected to top $10-billion on Black Friday alone - up 39% over last year.
But some places were more successful than others in keeping crowds at home.
"We are sold out of systems. There is no point in being in line."
New video game systems produced this more traditional Black Friday swarm in Wisconsin.
"We're just trying to keep people apart, try to keep people one at a time." said Alex Andersen, a GameStop employee.
The holiday season arrives as the coronavirus crisis continues to grow. The counrty saw 2,000 more deaths Thursday. That's the most in one day since July.
Where shoppers see opportunity, health officials see red flags.
"If there are lots of gatherings we know in two to three weeks we are going to have even more hospitalizations." said Jamie Swift, Ballad Health's Chief Infection Prevention Officer.
Making for an unusual start to a holiday shopping season unlike any other.