Black Friday is looking a bit differently at malls and stores across North Alabama.
Walmart in Hampton Cove had a small line at the door just before opening Friday morning at 5 a.m. A Walmart spokesperson told WAAY31 the smaller lines are intentional this year to help with social distancing. To keep crowds down Walmart introduced their Black Friday sales early to spread out the crowds. Also new this year, you can order ahead Black Friday purchases and pick-up through a contact free service. Target officials say they took similar precautions. They also introduced deals earlier. If you shop at Target this morning you'll notice double the amount of parking spots for drive up pickup.
Academy Sports and Outdoors opened their doors at 5 a.m. as well. The store director for the store on Memorial Parkway, Leslie Winsett, says they have free extra masks available for customers, signs on the floor to keep customers six feet a part and employees can manage the flow of traffic inside to store to avoid crowding. Winsett says they expect to see just as many customers Friday as they've seen in past years.
"We anticipate that it's still going to be a big weekend and we're going to see an increase in our traffic and customers coming in to shop and that should continue through the holiday season," Winsett said.
Retail stores in Bridgestreet Town Centre have their own set of safety protocols inside. Each store sets a limit of how many customers can be inside at one time, and that limit depends on how big the stores are. Associates also wear masks and asks customers to do the same. Extra mall staff will also work throughout the holiday season to make sure things run smoothly.
Over at the Parkway Place mall shoppers will notice precautions in place! This year there might be less crowds. That's because stores extended Black Friday sales. Individual stores are setting capacity limits. The mall is also keeping up with precautions they have set for months. They will be frequently cleaning the most touched areas. The food court will be set at a 50 percent capacity.
The mask requirement will be enforced at all stores.