WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — For years, Black Friday has been a time where people would camp out and await the opening of big box stores to get their holiday deals, but this year many are shifting to online shopping as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
About 10 minutes before the Warwick Mall opened at 5 a.m. Friday morning, there were only about 15-to-20 people in line to get inside, which is a drastic difference from past years when lines would normally wrap around store buildings.
Warwick Mall General Manager Domenic Schiavone said they have been seeing increased volume in traffic for days. He said many stores have already rolled out their holiday deals, which is what is bringing people in.
Amidst the pandemic, safety is top of mind, and coronavirus regulations are already in place inside the mall. Hand sanitizer is readily available and they are requiring everyone to wear masks.
Even with the financial hardships the pandemic has brought on, the National Retail Federation is expecting total holiday sales to increase between 3.6% and 5.2%.
Joseph Patray of North Providence told 12 News he goes to the Warwick Mall every Black Friday.
“This year I’m going to take it slow, because we all know what is going on,” he said.
Providence resident Sylvia Ruiz said she’s been shopping since 6:30 a.m.
“It’s been a blessing,” she said. “I found a lot of stuff and I really like it. It’s better following the rules and wearing the mask and staying safe.”
Brad Hutchinson of Johnston told 12 News that he had been waiting outside the Warwick Mall since 3 p.m. on Thursday, trying to get what he calls the “hottest thing on the market:” a PS5.
“I think it gave me a better shot actually, because I think since the mall didn’t open at midnight it drew away a lot of people, because we’ve had a ton of people drive by. Probably been like 50 cars that kind of drove away when they saw the line,” he said. “I’ve done Black Friday the past two years and I’ve had so much fun with my boys. They didn’t come out with me this year but I had to camp out, so I’m hoping for the best.”
Workers at the Warwick Mall told 12 News while they are expecting the day to busy, they don’t think it’ll be too crazy. Despite this, they are prepared for the worst. Some stores like Game Stop and Pink had long lines outside throughout the day.
Schiavone said everything has been running smoothly so far, adding that they will close down entrances if need be to regulate the size of crowds and ensure there is enough social distancing occurring.