Minnesota shoppers show up for Black Friday deals during pandemic

On a normal Black Friday, Mall of America would be packed throughout the day. But the pandemic had many people skipping the shopping holiday. (FOX 9)

With restrictions in place in Minnesota, stores still saw plenty of foot traffic on Friday, but the COVID-19 pandemic made it a Black Friday like no other.

"The lines were good, they weren’t too long," said Nicole Farnham, who was shopping at the Mall of America.

The Mall of America was operating at 50 percent capacity, with traffic down 60 to 65 percent on Friday compared to last year. Shoppers say that while online shopping is good, there are still reasons to go in-person.

"I don’t want to spend all my time shopping online and forget about the brick and mortar businesses, I want to keep them open," explained MOA shopper Earnest Claiborn.

Retail experts say shopping forecasts look good for the next month, and that it's all about adapting -- like extending Black Friday sales to compete for those holiday dollars.

"The pandemic has really not effected the big retailers, the Walmarts, Amazons are all fine," said Professor George John with the University of Minnesota's Carlson School. "It's the smaller people who have been hurt badly."

Those small businesses are working around the clock while thinking of ways to stay competitive. For Twin Cities chocolate company Droolin’ Moose, that meant launching a food truck and curbside ordering for customers.

"Our biggest thing is to stay creative so people are knowing we’re really trying to push our business forward even in this tough time it’s just a matter of adapting to this changing environment," said Missy Wettstrom with Droolin’ Moose.

And while pandemic might keep some shoppers away, another endeavor is bringing local Minnesota shops to you. The Urban Rooster Shop website launched this week and puts merchandise from those small businesses online -- so you don’t have to leave home to shop local. https://urbanroostershop.com/

"We wanted to make sure those small businesses had every advantage as they could as the bigger guys on Black Friday to compete for your dollar," said Urban Rooster Shop cofounder Anne Mezzenga.

Those big box retailers were staying busy on Friday. Best Buy in Eden Prairie had a full parking lot throughout the day and lines of cars picking up their merchandise they bought online.

Smaller businesses say their big day to shine is on Small Business Saturday.