After working her overnight shift filling orders for Amazon, Janet Mendoza headed out to do her own Black Friday shopping.
The 20-year-old Mendoza, who works at the retail giant’s new Staten Island fulfillment center, was pleasantly surprised to find less of a crowd than she feared.
“Black Friday — it’s not that bad, to be honest,” she said after taking the ferry to Manhattan in search of two coats. “It doesn’t really feel like Black Friday, because it’s not busy like you usually see. It’s just like any regular day.”
Thank technology for the somewhat reduced crowds on what is traditionally the most hectic shopping day of the year. The popularity of online sales continued unabated, while retailers like Target and Amazon offered free two-day shipping without any minimum purchase as an enticement for online buyers.
A Walmart digital map on its mobile app steers in-store shoppers directly to the item they seek, eliminating the time-consuming march through the crowded aisles. And the national retailer is also offering on-the-spot checkout, with salesfolk spread out across the store to avoid long lines and longer waits.
With all that said, experts estimated $23 billion in sales before midnight Friday — a bump from the $21 million spent in 2017.
Mendoza-Cruz said she decided to shop in person after comparing cyber-prices with brick-and-mortar sales.She bought some Christmas presents and a new coat for herself.
“I was like, ‘OK, sales were the same, so you might as well go in person,’” said Cruz. “Because you get it there, you don’t have to wait until you get your coat. With the holidays, they’d probably take two weeks to ship it.
“I was like, ‘No, I don’t want to wait!’”
Best friends Rebecca Anton and Luna Ubide-Holmes, both 16, awoke at 6:30 a.m. and made the familiar Black Friday trek into Manhattan from the outer boroughs.
Stop one was Uniqlo in Soho, where the high school pals each grabbed a pair of cozy pajamas. The teens were surprised to find a smaller crowd than usual.
“It seems really deserted,” said Anton. “No one’s out.”
Such was not the case at Macy’s flagship Herald Square store, where a steady stream of tourists mingled with local shoppers to grab discounts of 70% on cookware and 40% on boots.
Nicole Battini of Bologna, Italy, came directly from a night of Manhattan club-hopping to find shoes, a coat and a handbag. She planned to check out and then grab some sleep.
Keira Maldonado, 24, decided to do a little shopping before heading into work Friday. Her shift started a little later than usual after Maldonado and her SoHo bakery colleagues made 1,500 Thanksgiving pies the day before.