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Bay Area Shoppers Wary as Retailers Ready Return of Black Friday

PLEASANTON (KPIX) -- Bay Area shoppers spent Thanksgiving at home as major retailers did not open their stores on the holiday and opinions were mixed about whether they would return to malls on Black Friday, given COVID concerns and recent smash-and-grab thefts.

"I'm going to wake up at 4 a.m., go shopping. Anything that's open I'm just going to go shopping," said Christy Brown. "I've never gone Black Friday shopping so I think it would be really fun to try it out."

Brown was at Key Mercer Sports Park along with others looking to enjoy the outdoors before their Thanksgiving meal. Others were excited to gather in large groups, knowing their households were vaccinated and the fear of spreading COVID-19 outdoors isn't has high. They also were skeptical about deals available compared to what they remember from years past.

"I am kind of scared with what's going around so I'm not planning to go in person," said Ginal Shah. "It's not the same anymore."

Some acknowledged that the crime spree happening at Bay Area malls is hard to ignore. While they enjoyed the experience before the pandemic, they say making purchases from home has become routine.

"Window shopping I do, I look for the deals but I don't pay," said Namrata Hirani. "Everything is online, being home -- just order everything."

Another woman said the uncertainty going into 2022 remains high for her so he would rather wait to make major purchases.

Major retailers like Best Buy, Macy's, Target and Walmart all closed their stores Thursday, compared to Thanksgiving before the pandemic when they offered special hours on the holiday.

Bay Area malls will be opening earlier Friday compared to their standard hours. Some will open at 6 a.m. but plan to keep their normal closing hours, possibly due to concerns about mass thefts late at night.

"We're concerned that this is a crime of opportunity and, when people get out, they may just try again," said Santa Clara County district attorney Jeff Rosen earlier this week. "So we're doing everything that we can to keep them in custody."

Bay Area district attorneys announced they will coordinate their response to this growing trend to try and prevent more robberies. Law enforcement agencies have also increased their police presence at shopping centers during the holidays.

There's another more change for shoppers to adjust to this year: consumer spending experts say it is important to manage expectations with the ongoing impact of the pandemic. Deals will likely not be as significant as prices remain high for so many goods. Supply chain issues are still a factor in the current economy so all the items you're looking for may not be available on Black Friday. All these considerations aside, many are still excited to wake up early and head to the mall.

"I feel like it's part of the experience ... Cyber Monday is fun but I feel like going in person is a lot more fun," Brown said.

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