They’re scenes that were so normal before the pandemic: friends laughing and sipping drinks, with shopping bags in hand while roaming the halls of Vancouver Mall. Families braving the lines for a fresh pretzel. Couples shopping hand-in-hand, enjoying the holiday spirit.
Black Friday shopping was back in force this year.
“Holidays are always that time of the year where everybody likes to come out and shop,” said Jeb Stokes, retailer Buckle’s Northwest area sales manager. “It’s a good time of the year.”
For the retailers at Vancouver Mall, business was booming.
“It seems a lot busier this year than last year,” said Melissa Mendez, store manager at Bath & Body Works. As she ushered folks inside her store, a line stretched across the mall.
“Lines are something I saw pre-COVID,” she remarked.
Shoppers were in a good mood, said Jacob Hansen, general manager at Old Navy. There were lines at that store, too, though, they were moving quickly, Hansen said.
“It’s a lot busier than last year,” he added.
Crowded shops and snaking lines were often seen in the early-morning hours of Black Friday shopping. But not anymore. Black Friday at the mall was much busier in the afternoon than in the morning this year.
The majority of shops in the mall don’t open until 8 a.m., with the exceptions being Macy’s and J.C. Penney.
For years, retailers’ Black Friday hours moved earlier and earlier, until the point when many shoppers cut their holiday celebrations short to brave Thanksgiving Day sale lines.
In the last few years that changed, however, with big retailers, such as Target and Walmart deciding to remain closed on Thanksgiving Day.
“What we’ve seen trending in the last couple of years is that it’s spread over a longer period of time,” said Tracy Peters, Vancouver Mall’s general manager. “Retailers are offering specials leading up to Black Friday, so it’s more like a weeklong activity versus a one-day activity.”
Still, many stores do offer better deals on Black Friday than during their earlier Black Friday sales.
“That is drawing in large crowds,” Peters said.
But those early-morning doorbuster deals are largely no more. Instead, shoppers came in a steady stream throughout the day.
“Black Friday is a tradition for some people,” Peters said. Her crew at the mall gets to witness people arriving in their matching shirts, chatting about what deals they may be able to snag and all the joy that brings.
“It’s been a good year,” Hansen said.