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BARBOURSVILLE — Huntington Mall shopper Sheyenne Stanley said she liked this year’s Black Friday better than previous years.

“There aren’t the long lines and crowded stores this year,” she said. “Besides the masks, it doesn’t feel any different this year.”

Stanley and her sister, Channa Adkins, both from Charleston, were at the mall in the early afternoon Friday.

“We didn’t feel the need to get out at 6 a.m., and besides the masks and smaller crowds, it doesn’t feel any different other Black Fridays, so I am really having a good time,” Adkins said. “I still plan on shopping the same amount as I did last year.”

Margi MacDuff, marketing director at the Huntington Mall, said shoppers are adapting to this year’s holiday shopping season by coming to the mall at different times to avoid large crowds.

“I haven’t noticed anyone without their masks on,” MacDuff said. “I have noticed that we don’t have the huge lines like we have had in years past, but I have also noticed that the people that are here are really shopping a lot.”

MacDuff said the mall is rewarding random mask-wearing customers with surprise gifts.

“It’s called ‘Surprise and Delight,’” she said. “As part of the prize patrol, I am going out and watching people shopping, wearing their masks and following the guidelines, and I reward them with free gifts.”

Destiny Adkins, a sales representative with Bath & Body Works, said a steady stream of shoppers followed social distancing guidelines.

“Everyone has been great,” she said. “We have some great deals going on and everyone seems happy and ready to shop for the holidays.”

Brian Reed, general manager of JCPenney at the mall, said the store started Black Friday early as a strategy to keep crowds and lines down.

“We started our Black Friday sales last Friday, which allowed us to space out our customer traffic so we can get as many people in here as possible,” he said. “We do have a 50% capacity limit due to the pandemic, which can be a bit of an obstacle on a day like this one.”

JCPenney isn’t the only store doing things differently this year.

Walmart gave shoppers the option to pick up Black Friday orders through contactless pickup. Others offered curbside pickup and online sales.

Retailers that offer curbside pickup benefited from a 31% higher conversion rate of traffic to their sites, according to Adobe Analytics data. According to this year’s data, Thanksgiving Day hit a new record, with consumers spending $5.1 billion, an increase of 21.5% from last year.

Despite the shifts in spending and consumer behaviors, Adobe expected Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2020 to still become the two largest online sales days in history.

Reach Fred Pace at

fpace@hdmediallc.com

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