Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
When Desma Sandin and her three adult daughters arrived at the Macy’s at Coronado Center, 30 minutes before the department store’s 6 a.m. opening Friday, they thought they had the time wrong.
“There was nobody here,” Desma Sandin said.
But as the clock moved closer to 6 a.m., a small line gathered around the store. The four women, who go Black Friday shopping every year, were near the front of the line.
“We’ve got lights!” exclaimed daughter J’Dee Sandin as the lights outside the store flicked on just a few minutes before 6 a.m.
It was a quieter Black Friday this year than pre-COVID. Although several stores around Albuquerque had the annual Black Friday lines, others saw empty sidewalks before their doors opened. Unlike years before COVID-19, when Black Friday bled into Thanksgiving Day, and retailers opened long before sunrise, in-person shopping this year started later and ended sooner. Many major retailers stayed closed on Thanksgiving again this year and extended in-store and online deals throughout the month. Post-pandemic, Black Friday’s online chaser Cyber Monday continues to grow.
Desma Sandin said she has “nostalgia” associated with freezing in Black Friday lines. She was happy that it wasn’t under 20 degrees, although one of her daughters, Janan Canchola, who now lives in Phoenix, said she’s used to 70-degree weather on Thanksgiving week.
Although Desma Sandin wanted to shop in person for boots and earrings at Macy’s, she and Canchola said they also shop online throughout the week. Canchola, who came to New Mexico for the holiday, said she’s been shopping online at Target all month long. Desma Sandin said her husband offered to stay behind to find deals on the computer at home.
“It’s kind of nice,” Desma Sandin said about the smaller crowds this year.
“Part of the thrill, though, was to see if you could get that deal before everybody else,” Canchola added.
Many malls and retailers had a later start this year than pre-COVID Black Fridays. A 2010 Target ad proclaims that it should be “your first stop 4 a.m. Friday.” This year, the store didn’t open until 7 a.m., just one hour earlier than its normal hours.
Even though Target has offered deals all month long, there was still a line of people, some holding coffee cups, outside the doors of the Uptown location at 6:45 a.m. Friday. When the doors opened, some shoppers ran inside and up the stairs. But 20 minutes after the opening, the line had already dissipated.
Andrea McKillip shopped online last year due to the pandemic. But this year, McKillip said online sales didn’t interest her; she wanted to shop in person with her daughter.
Like McKillip, a majority of Americans still say they prefer shopping in stores rather than online. A PEW Research Center survey released Monday found that 57% of American adults say they prefer in-person shopping, compared to 38% who prefer buying things online.
For McKillip, this year’s Black Friday was “disappointing.” McKillip and her daughter, who both live in Albuquerque, braved the frosty early morning weather to stand in line at Best Buy on Friday, 15 minutes before the store’s 5 a.m. opening.
“It’s like, ‘Where’s all the people?'” McKillip asked.
McKillip has been Black Friday shopping every year since her kids were born. She brought her daughter, who McKillip said is too young to remember the pre-pandemic Black Friday chaos, along for the first time this year. They were in search of lines – the longer, the better, so they could get the full Black Friday experience.
Before getting in line at Best Buy, the pair had stopped by two Walmarts and a Target, but found them empty.
“I’m from the old Black Friday days,” McKillip said, recalling past years where lines would wrap around stores and last for hours. “… It’s just not the same.”
In the past, McKillip would skip Best Buy because people would set up tents the night before Black Friday and sleep outside the store.
When McKillip made their first pass by the store, there was no line. But when they stopped at the store again around 4:45 a.m., customers had started lining up. As it got closer to 5 a.m., the line spanned one side of the store.
“I was hoping for more excitement,” McKillip said. “But, take what you can get, I guess.”
McKillip said she understands people that shop online, but for her, putting in the work – waking up early and waiting in the cold – made the Black Friday deals better.
“It’s just that effort,” McKillip said. “It just made it … feel like Christmas.”