The coronavirus pandemic is keeping crowds thin at malls and stores across the country on Black Friday, which is notorious for large crowds. (Nov. 27)
LAS CRUCES – Reyna Espinoza and her husband usually avoid big box stores the day after Thanksgiving.
“This year will be our first time in 20 years (buying during Black Friday) because we don’t like it,” Reyna said while the couple waited in line Friday outside of the Walmart on Walton Boulevard.
Why take advantage of the Black Friday deals in person this year of all years?
In New Mexico, stores must limit their capacity inside to help mitigate the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. That means no crowds, no pushing, no fighting inside.
“We thought since they’re only letting some people in it would be OK,” she said.
Still, capacity limits, in effect through Nov. 30, have resulted in long lines outside big box stores.
More: Providers hope ‘COVID to Home/Hotel’ technology will ease burden on hospitals
At Walmart, two lines extended from the entrance and into the parking lot. Most in line were grocery shopping.
Reyna, who had previously shopped for groceries at that Walmart, was expecting a wait time of an hour and a half.
Moises Jasso and Kisha Hernandez were also in line, having spent about 40 minutes to make it half way to the door. The couple hoped the store would be less crowded considering the public health order, but didn’t expect such long lines on the outside.
“I don’t think is even worth it coming to the store right now, I’m just doing it for my kids,” Jasso said.
Customers wait in line outside of Walmart on Walton Boulevard on Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. Some are buying groceries, others looking for Black Friday deals. (Photo: Veronica Martinez/Sun-News)
The couple went to Walmart to get items on their children’s Christmas lists. For Jasso, buying online was not an option since he feels unsafe using his credit card on websites.
“I’m not that person to be using my card online or over the phone. We’re mainly afraid of fraud,” Jasso said. “We haven’t done Black Friday for a while so we just wanted to take advantage of the deals.”
Customers at Best Buy — across Lohman Avenue from Walmart — were able to buy online and pick up at the store. With the state mandated closures that took place in mid November, the store has operated only with curbside service.
Gus Hill and his wife waited inside their vehicle when a store employee approached and asked them to “check-in” on their phone.
“I’ve used curbside service before so I knew it was safe,” Hill said. “The only thing I was concerned about was the long wait but that won’t be an issue.”
It took Hill less than 10 minutes to get the items he had purchased online — a smart outlet for their Christmas light and an Apple watch. The Las Cruces couple never considered buying in-store during Black Friday.
The couple would’ve stayed home if it wasn’t for the curbside services, Hill said.
Ron and Connie Castle didn’t have to get out of their car to pick up a TV and wall mount their son has already purchased for them online at Best Buy.
Being regular Black Friday shoppers, the couple expected to do some in-store shopping not knowing only curbside pickup was available. Still, they were satisfied with the curbside option.
“I think the governor is doing the right thing in keeping some stores closed and limiting capacity,” Castle said. “I’m 74, I have asthma and high blood pressure. I’m on the high risk group so we take it seriously.”
Connie is already done with her holiday shopping, mostly done online.
A Best Buy employee delivers items to a customer outside of the store on Lohman Avenue on Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. (Photo: Veronica Martinez/Sun-News)
“This was totally different but I actually liked it,” Connie said. “I ordered everything early enough that I was able to get everything I wanted.”
Slow day at Mesilla Plaza
Mesilla Plaza was deserted Friday morning with the exception of a few visitors looking through the window displays of stores that have remained closed or offering only curbside services.
In past years, the stores and the plaza would be bustling with visitors enjoying the rest of the Thanksgiving weekend, making it a good sale opportunity for NM Vintage Market, worker Tiffany Haggard said. This year, Haggard doesn’t know what to expect.
“We wanted to be open in order to help anyone that was in need of gift ideas or wanting to support small businesses.”
Signs on the doors advise clients to check their online catalogues and assure them delivery is an option.
Julia Parra, of The Chocolate Lady, said the week has been slow for the stores at Mesilla.
“Most people are doing online and delivery but not us,” Parra said. “We’re mainly relying on our Facebook page and curbside.”
The store that specializes in homemade chocolate treats, perfect for gifts or Thanksgiving dessert, is usually busy during the holiday season. Although the chocolate shop has been getting curbside orders, Parra said is not the same as in person shopping.
“People often want to come in and be able to choose and look at all our product,” Parra said. “It’s just been very quiet but we’re getting through and hope holiday sales continue.”
Saturday is Small Business Saturday, a tax holiday that encourages residents to shop local. The state allows New Mexico-based businesses with fewer than 10 employees to deduct gross receipts tax on sales of qualifying items. Go to ShopSouthernNM.com to learn more.
Veronica Martinez is a trending and immigration reporter for the Las Cruces Sun-News. She can be reached at [email protected] or @vamartinez10 on Twitter.
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