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After weeks of deals, Black Friday sees smaller crowds, fewer items, longer waits

After weeks of deals, Black Friday sees smaller crowds, fewer items, longer waits
Revelers watch as the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is lifted into place by crane when it arrives at Rockefeller Plaza in New York City on November 13. Black Friday revealed fewer deals and items, but some crowds still appeared to gobble up the savings. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 26 (UPI) -- With coronavirus pandemic rules allowing shoppers to return to stores for Black Friday, customers will find less congestion and crowds but fewer items and longer waits because of staffing shortages.

Most people settled on using the Internet and e-commerce last holiday season because of COVID-19. Retailers have continued that trend online offering Black Friday-type deals online in the weeks leading up to the day after Thanksgiving, but have also ratcheted up the in-person deals over last year.

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In one of the traditional Black Friday hot spots, Minneapolis's Mall of America, shoppers crowded an entrance of the facility before dawn, giving glimpses that at least in some areas the day could resemble more closely pre-pandemic days.

"The crowds and seeing everybody waiting patiently in line, it was just exciting," Letitia Holloway, of Chicago, told the Star-Tribune about the crowd.

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Best Buy, Target and Walmart all offered large saving events throughout their stores Friday in hopes to lure customers out of their homes and into the big box stores. Amazon also offered deep discounts Friday to keep customers' wallets open while they surfed the Internet.

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The pandemic, though, has continued to play a role in Black Friday because of global supply chain issues that have created a shortage in inventory. That shortage is expected to continue through the Christmas season.

"Retailers were trying to relieve pressure on supply chains, so they pulled sales forward," said Greg Portell, of the strategy and management consulting firm Kearney, according to The New York Times.

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With more retailers choosing to close on Thanksgiving, including Walmart and Kohl's, it has prevented some shoppers on getting a jump on Black Friday as they have in so.

Some shoppers who did find open retailers, like the Big Lots in Des Moines, Iowa, were more than happy to miss the BlackFriday crowds.

"I don't want to get mixed up in any of that chaos," Hannah Smith, told KCCI-TV while shopping in Iowa Thursday.

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New York lights Rockefeller Center Christmas tree

The Christmas tree lights are turned on for the first time at Rockefeller Center in New York City on Wednesday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

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