‘You have to be patient’: Black Friday shoppers line up for deals at Christiana Mall

More than 130 million people were expected to take advantage of discounts on the traditional shopping day — and some also found ways to give back.

Thousands of shoppers walk through the mall

Thousands of shoppers made their way to Christiana Mall on Black Friday. (Zoë Read/WHYY)

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Daphne Ortiz and her family shop at Christiana Mall in tax-free Delaware every Black Friday to find holiday gift deals — and this year was no different.

As long lines of shoppers wrapped around the Lululemon, Lego, and PacSun stores, Ortiz said she didn’t let the large crowds stop her.

Shoppers wait in line outside of Lululemon at Christiana Mall.
Black Friday shoppers waited in line patiently outside the Lululemon at Christiana Mall. (Zoë Read/WHYY)

“It’s fun to go to the stores, and see all the stuff, and all the people going crazy,” Ortiz said, admitting she enjoyed it a bit more when her kids were younger. “It’s not the same as it used to be. The sales are different, the crowd is different, and it’s not as fun.”

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More than 180 million people are expected to shop in-store and online between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday — including more than 130 million on Black Friday alone, according to the National Retail Federation. It’s the highest estimate since the industry trade group began tracking holiday shopping data in 2017.

Still, several retailers across the U.S. scaled back on seasonal hiring this year, citing concerns that the return of student loan payments may cause some people to be less willing to spend money. Stores are also competing with online purchasing. Retailers launched cyber deals as early as October, and over the first 20 days of November, internet spending increased by more than 5% vs. last year, according to Adobe Analytics.

Holiday sales online and in-store were expected to grow by 3% or 4%. That’s not as much growth as the past two years, when people received stimulus checks, but remains in line with pre-pandemic times, the National Retail Federation said.

Foot traffic was high at Christiana Mall on Friday morning as people searched for deals on clothes, footwear, and jewelry.

“Everybody is in good spirits, but it’s very crowded, so you have to be patient,” said shopper Shonte Brown after purchasing a coat on sale at H&M.

The mall’s senior general manager, Steve Chambliss, said he was optimistic. He believes traffic and sales were similar to previous years.

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“This is the first day of a long season, and it’s a barometer for how we think we’ll do, so you’ll get a lot of feedback after today,” Chambliss said. “I would say we’re off to a good start, but how we will end we will see in a few weeks.”

Young shopper Amber Cleaver was participating in Black Friday for the first time. The 17-year-old said she found some deals on fall and winter clothes for herself, as well as gifts. She was pleased with her purchases, but doesn’t think she’ll venture out on Black Friday again.

“I think it’s a one and done,” Cleaver said. “I think I’ll get better deals online. I think it will be less stressful. At the end, I got tired, it was stressful and overwhelming, because there’s so many people right next to you, and pushing.”

On this day celebrating consumerism, some decided to spend their money while helping people in need.

Ryan Barlow and his mother Deb Quinn shop Black Friday at Christiana Mall every year. One of their traditions is visiting the Salvation Army Angel Tree.

Ryan Barlow and his mother Deb Quinn look at slips of paper hung on a Christmas tree at the mall.
Shoppers such as Ryan Barlow and his mother Deb Quinn chose to spend their Black Friday dollars on items for people in need. (Zoë Read/WHYY)

The tree is decorated with white tickets listing children’s holiday wish lists. Barlow chose a ticket for a young boy who asked for a Nike sweatsuit and sneakers.

“It’s something small that takes no more than an hour of your day,” Barlow said, “and makes somebody’s Christmas morning.”

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