CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Cold weather over the past two days didn’t deter Hampton Roads shoppers from lining up for Black Friday deals.
The official kickoff to the holiday shopping season started around 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving for most retailers. Best Buy in Chesapeake was one of those stores that opened Thursday evening, welcoming a few hundred when their doors opened.
Retailers call it the Super Bowl of the holiday shopping season. “We’re just excited for the rush of the holidays. This is our favorite day of the year,” said Kate Schifferli, general manager for Best Buy in Chesapeake.
Other locations, like Norfolk Premium Outlets, opted for more traditional Friday hours. The outlet mall opened at at 6 a.m. Friday morning to lines of people eager to get those Black Friday bargains.
Retailers like Michael Kors and Kate Spade slashed prices, offering 70 percent off all merchandise to draw in customers.
Some shoppers said they normally avoid the crowds, but they couldn’t pass up the deals this year.
“My cousin texted me to tell me that they were having this sale out here so we were like let’s jump In the car and let’s go,” said shopper Denene G.
Even hours after the outlets opened, lines were still forming outside several storefronts.
Mall officials said the parking lot was up to 95% capacity at one point. Cones were set up and officers were on hand to keep cars moving. Shoppers told 10 On Your Side the traffic to get into the mall was the only drawback.
Jim Wofford, general manager of MacAruthur Center in Norfolk, said they were pleasantly surprised with the turnout Friday morning.
Wofford said normally they don’t see people until about 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. after they hit all the big box stores like Target — but this year, people began lining up around 5:30 a.m. waiting to get into the stores that open earlier than the mall itself.
“Were excited about the turnout so far it was a great start to our holiday season we’re hoping that the weekend will sustain the same enthusiasm the weather helps it’s a little chilly outside so people like to get inside and also its calling for rain on Saturday which will bring people back to the center as well,” said Wofford.
Shopper Antonio Perryman said, “I like the fellowship and just seeing people is the beautiful thing for me I’ve served this country for 30 years in the United States Navy and just getting out and walkin and seeing people in and out. It’s the fellowship I love the most.”
The MacArthur Center’s parking garage is free through Sunday for shoppers. Wofford wanted to remind people that officers walking around the mall are here to keep you safe but can also help carry bags to your car if you need it.
Despite the frigid conditions Thursday that saw temperatures dip into the 20s and 30s, shoppers at a Best Buy in Chesapeake did not want to miss out. “I’m forced to be here,” one shopper joked.
“They have a 43 inch Toshiba smart TV for $129, so I’m here and she’s here to get one,” said Crystal Hawk, another shopper in the store.
The line at Best Buy started out small, but grew to hundreds by the time doors opened. Some of the big ticket items included big screen TVs, laptops and iPads. The store had security and 60 employees on hand–that’s three times their normal staffing for a regular day.
Shopping carts filled up fast once the doors opened. “I got two monitors, a new sound bar and then a nice gaming headset,” Tyler Campbell said, as he strolled through the store.
“Oh we got two TVs, no three TVs,” Sherry Shackelford said, another shopper. “A Ring, Google assistant and our handy dandy Echo Dot.”
Although the store was packed, many shoppers said they had a good experience.
“We were able to find everything we wanted. Thankfully it was all in stock so that was good,” said shopper, Catherine Campbell. “We’re going to hit a few more stores. The bank accounts probably won’t like it, but that’s okay.”
Wofford said when it comes to Black Friday, there will still be shoppers who prefer to buy in stores instead of online.
“You still cannot duplicate the actual energy that comes with shopping on Black Friday you know, seeing, touching. I think people still enjoy it having that as a mode of entertainment the day after Thanksgiving,” he explained.