PLEASANT HILL, Calif. - Shoppers who woke early to brave the Black Friday lines were in for a surprise.
Crowds were light and almost nonexistent in many stores throughout the Bay Area during what is usually one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
Best Buy in Pleasant Hill usually has lines wrapped around the building but this year only about 30 shoppers awaited the opening.
"I just wanted to hang out with my friends and get that person connection with them," said shopper Cole Smith.
"I wanted to experience Black Friday once in my life, said shopper Otto Steindorf. "I'll probably never do it again to be honest."
Santana Row in San Jose was filled with shoppers. But it was more like a weekend, than the traditional Black Friday shopping throngs.
From retail centers in the south, to those in the north and east, grabbing price-reduced deals doesn’t require camping out all night. Now, people can show-up shortly before opening.
Economist Dr. Brian Marks said, "It’s black Friday, but it’s changed, like life does."
While retail experts predicted most shoppers would be online this year, other factors could be contributing to the sparse crowds.
The COVID pandemic and recent retail thefts could be part of the reason shoppers are staying away.
"What we’re witnessing today on this Black Friday is not just a transitory change, but a permanent change in how we will experience Black Friday in the future," said Marks.
Smash-and-grab thieves struck throughout the Bay Area last week, leaving residents on edge.
"These types of brazen thefts that are occurring throughout the country are only going to continue," University of New Haven Advanced Policing Dir. Lisa Dadio said shortly before the Thanksgiving holiday.
So, soaking up the holidays may have the same trappings, but fewer shoppers are being lured, as the culture trends in a different direction for the holidays.