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Richmond shoppers and retailers prepare for a different Black Friday

It’s common to see long lines and huge crowds on Black Friday in normal times, but of course these aren’t normal times given the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s common to see long lines and huge crowds on Black Friday in normal times, but of course these aren’t normal times given the COVID-19 pandemic.

Regardless, Richmond-based retailers are still hoping to cash in on the shopping urge -- albeit with adjustments to keep both visitors and employees safe.

For example, many retailers are extending their Black Friday deals to lure people in over a week or more to avoid a crush of customers on Nov. 27.

McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Vancouver Airport has already launched its Black Friday sales which will run until Dec. 4. Its operating hours have also been extended from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. 

Shoppers are asked to go online to take a look at some of the Black Friday deals before they show up and choose a quieter time to visit, according to Ally Day, the marketing manager of McArthurGlen Designer Outlet. 

Lansdowne Centre is not extending its store hours, but it has invited a couple of vendors from the Vancouver Christmas market to host a small pop-up market inside the mall over the weekend to bring a holiday atmosphere to visitors. 

“One of the predictions is that this holiday season people will be shopping earlier and also they will consolidate their shopping trip, rather than going to five different locations. That might be a safer and more efficient way for families to get all their shopping done,” said Bronwyn Bailey, marketing manager at Lansdowne Centre. 

Shoppers are encouraged to buy local this holiday season
Meanwhile, people’s shopping habits have changed this year, with more preferring to take advantage of online shopping to avoid close contact with others. 

Shopify, the Canadian multinational e-commerce company, predicts that more than half of Canadians will turn to online shopping during the Black Friday weekend. And Richmondite Oliva Wang, a mother of two children, is one of them. 

Wang said she has been browsing major online retailing websites to check the latest deals. 

“I have stress going into stores. I keep thinking: is there going to be a crowd? Will I get the sale? Or maybe I should just stay home and shop online,” said Wang. “Especially given that my kids are living with me, and I want them to be safe.”

However, another Richmondite Rannie Zhang would rather visit a bricks-and-mortar business.

“I need to see them in the store first -- to see, touch and feel products before ordering them online. I don’t want to waste money buying things that don’t live up to my expectations. Besides, we need to shop locally to help local business owners stay afloat during this holiday season,” said Zhang. 

“Shop locally” is also the message delivered by Shaena Furlong, acting Co-CEO of Richmond Chamber of Commerce.

“Local retailers are the folks who employ our neighbours, our friends and our colleagues. It’s really important to support them, especially this year, because so many local businesses are struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic. Now more than ever, they need that support,” said Furlong. 

For people looking to shop local and online, there are some great options offered by local businesses this year, noted Furlong. 

“A lot of our local retailers who weren’t doing e-commerce before 2020, are offering it now.”

And if you do want to shop in person, Richmond is the place to do it, said Furlong.

“We just got numbers from the provincial health office that show regional numbers (of COVID cases), and Richmond was the best out of Metro Vancouver... So don’t be overly scared of going shopping in Richmond, support local and stay safe,” said Furlong.