Was Black Friday of 2021 a “typical” day after Thanksgiving, with massive crowds flocking to their favorite stores to get the best deals of the holiday shopping season?
Yes, and no.
In spots, the Black Friday crowds were out in force — while some merchants and customers reported that the mad rush of holiday shoppers didn’t fully materialize.
Santa Clarita Valley residents filled the Westfield Valencia Town Center with frantic energy as they moved quickly from one store to the next in search of Christmas gifts or took advantage of deals to purchase new clothes or a sweet-smelling perfume for themselves.
“As soon as we came in, and this was before we even opened outdoors, everyone was waiting,” said Lauren Davis, assistant manager of Loft – a clothing store inside the town center. “As soon as you opened the doors at 9 a.m. the floodgates were open.”
She added her store was closed Thursday night and employees enjoyed their Thanksgiving holiday. When they opened Loft in the morning, it was “hectic,” but around 10:30 a.m. the situation calmed down a bit, Davis said.
Loft sells a range of clothing including fleece, loungewear, denim and a variety of blouses. Davis described the early morning as a rush of customers coming in and out of dressing rooms and purchasing items.
“It’s to be expected (the traffic). Some stores are going to be busier than others,” Davis said. “I’ve been in retail for some years now. I’m new to this company, but not new to retail.”
Joy Contreras, an assistant manager at Hollister, said Black Friday was good for business. As soon as they opened their doors, more than 30 people lined up and readied to enter.
“Last year, I was here for Black Friday at the same store and it was slow,” Contreras said. “There’s a lot of (foot) traffic this year.”
Black Friday can be stressful for employees. However, Hollister brand representatives, part-time employees, were more than happy to come in, she said.
“We give a thorough training to all of them and make sure that they’re well-rounded in all aspects,” Contreras said. “Each of them gets their hour breaks and we encourage them to take a 10-minute break to destress if they have a tough customer or need a minute to cool down.”
There was also a staff potluck in the back room for Hollister staff, she said.
Kelly Kinney, of Saugus, was shopping at Macy’s with her son, Jaelin, and her sister, Erica Williams. She said they go Black Friday shopping as part of family tradition.
“There are a lot fewer people out today,” Kinney said. “I think a lot of people did their shopping online.”
Kinney was one of those people who did most of her Christmas shopping online, but she also decided to take advantage of Black Friday deals and purchase a few remaining items on her list.
“We’re probably going to purchase this entire stack here,” Kinney said while giggling and pointing to a black jacket, a few shirts and other items.
Kinney, Jaelin and Williams agreed it was nice to shop in public again after lockdowns and health mandates brought on by COVID-19.
Sgt. Ryan Elsee of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station said he had not heard of any thefts or any ongoing theft incidents during his morning-afternoon shift.
Sheriff’s deputies implemented extra patrols around the town center and small businesses in case of attempted burglary, he said.
There were major-theft incidents or “smash-and-grab” robberies in Beverly Hills, San Francisco and Chicago over the past week. Elsee said deputies were aware of these incidents, but they usually ramp up security during major holidays or days like Black Friday as a precautionary measure.
Cynthia Rowley, small-business owner of Refined Vintage Boutique in Valencia, said they had items stolen before and one large theft last year, but that would not stop her from serving her customers.
“We’re aware of that (smash-and-grab robberies), for sure,” Rowley said. “I only hope and pray that doesn’t happen to us because we are so small.”
Rowley sells home décor and gifts. They currently have a large selection from Brighton Jewelry, a variety of furniture, Memory Block and many different gift items for home décor, Rowley added.
Before, she would not open during Black Fridays because she thought everybody would be at the mall. However, in the past five years, they’ve opened their doors during Black Fridays.
Rowley said her customers have rallied around the business on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, too.
“We put a lot on sale these two days and our customers are used to us,” Rowley said. “Usually from Thanksgiving on, everybody starts pulling all their decorations, and so they love (our sale) because they can come in and get something new and fresh.”