Black Friday shopping scaled down due to pandemic

WARWICK, R.I. (WLNE) — While most Black Friday shopping was scaled down this year due to the coronavirus, there were still a few shoppers who went all out.

Shoppers camped out outside the Warwick Mall waiting for the doors to open. Every single person on line told ABC 6 News they were there for the Ps5 or Xbox.

“We got here at 4:00 just for the PS5. It’s so hard to grab” shopper Michael Conti said.

“I come here every year,” Benjamin Mariorenzi said. “I do Black Friday, but never like this. I’ve never camped out before. I usually come at like 12 and leave, but this is kind of insane.”

Brad Hutchinson was there for the Ps5, too. He camped out 14 hours ahead of opening and documented his journey on Snapchat, which included building a fort, eating thanksgiving pies in the fort, and sleeping on a giant stuffed animal bear.

“I’m feeling good. I had an energy drink, I slept like 30 minutes. I also built a fort out of cardboard,” Hutchison said. “The bear… I needed something comfortable to sleep on. I’ve been here at least 13 hours now so I need to lay on something and get a power nap in.”

Most people said they felt safe shopping despite being in the middle of a pandemic.

The Warwick Mall General Manager, Domenic Schiavone, said they put several safety measures in place like requiring shoppers to wear masks and social distance, placing handwashing stations around the mall, and handing out hand sanitizer.

“All the retailers started their Black Friday pricing about a week to 10 days ago, so the goal was really to spread out the shopping and we did see an increase in traffic and shopping over the last week,” Schiavone said.

This year, the mall opened at 5:00 a.m. instead of midnight in an effort to deter big midnight crowds. There were less crowds than normal and some people said they’ve never seen the mall this empty on Black Friday.

“Last year we went to a mall in Connecticut and it was swarmed with people… like insane. So, it’s definitely a drastic difference,” Peyton Perry said. “There’s not as many people by far.”

Schiavone said he expects more people to shop throughout the day and hopes people still come out and support businesses, just safely.

“A number of our businesses are local Rhode Island businesses like Cork and Rye and Not Your Average Joe’s,” Schiavone said. “They’re local people, local owners that really give back to the community. So yes, we are a mall, we have a lot of national retailers, but the people here that work are all Rhode Islanders and it’s important to all pull together and support each other.”

Categories: News, Rhode Island, Warwick