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Black Friday draws smaller crowds due to online alternatives amid pandemic

Earlier sales and the pandemic cut down on droves of shoppers trying to catch deals on Black Friday

ATLANTA — Many retailers look forward to Black Friday as a time to recoup lost sales and finish out the year on a high note. With the coronavirus pandemic and increased online shopping in 2020, Black Friday saw fewer crowds showing up to stores in person.

It followed a quiet Thanksgiving when recently, stores used to open in the early evening hours on the holiday. At Lenox Mall, which opened at 6 a.m. Friday, shoppers were slow to arrive.

11Alive spoke with shoppers who were in and out of the mall in a few minutes. Others were vying for big-ticket items like gaming systems. 

Many shoppers said they already took advantage of store sales online before Black Friday. Some retailers had deals going back as far as October for the holiday shopping season. Stores are also offering various methods of shopping, such as curbside pickup, contact-free pickup, and appointment-based shopping to limit congregating crowds.

RELATED: Black Friday shopping experience looks different because of COVID-19 pandemic

Plenty of signs and stickers can be found, urging people to mind social distancing guidelines, wear masks, and prohibit touching items for sale.

Overall, the National Retail Federation said shoppers will spend around $767 billion. They also noted that holiday shopping will probably increase by 5% despite fewer crowds in stores. The NRF estimated the average shopper would spend a little less than $1,000 over the holidays.

RELATED: What's open on Black Friday this year? Here's a list.

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