Thanksgiving shoppers flock to large retailers ahead of Black Friday; experts predict busier season than 2021

Large retailers across South Florida started to get packed with holiday shoppers hours before shopping centers are set to open their doors on Black Friday.

For a select group of people, there’s just something about shopping on Thanksgiving Day.

7News cameras captured shoppers grabbing electronics at the BrandsMart on Miami Gardens.

“It’s a tradition, you know? Thanksgiving, Black Friday,” said a shopper pushing a cart filled with large flat-screens. “You have to spend the money. No matter what year it, you’ve got to spend the money.

Shoppers came to scope the merchandise at BrandsMart after the store opened at 4 p.m.

Shopper Frank Foster is visiting from Detroit.

“I just wanted to come and see what the shopping was like down here in Florida in contrast to Detroit,” he said.

Many shoppers were looking for sweet deals.

“As you can hear, our customers love it, they’re here to get some great deals,” said Angus Bryan​, senior vice president of merchandising at BrandsMart USA.

The National Retail Federation predicts there will be more than 166 million people shopping nationwide between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday.

Officials said that is 8 million more shoppers than last year.

“Today’s shopper is very savvy when it comes to shopping around and finding what works best for them,” said Katherine Cullen with the NRF.

Some shoppers outside BrandsMart said they waited in line outside for hours before the retailer opened.

“For two hours, just so I could get to be on Channel 7 and to get a big television,” said a woman.

As people shop for special holiday gifts, law enforcement agencies plan to have officers and undercover officers all over the building to try to help keep patrons safe.

“I want anyone thinking of doing something that they shouldn’t [to know] that we have many units out there in unmarked vehicles and undercover units that are there to protect and serve,” said Hialeah Police Chief George Fuente.

Security guards will also be on patrol to help keep shoppers safe.

“We’re deploying an unbelievable amount of police officers that are going to be here throughout the whole week and upcoming weeks,” said Sweetwater Police Executive Officer Jonathan Arche.

For anyone planning on going shopping on Wednesday, Sawgrass Mills Mall will be open between 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Aventura Mall is open between 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Dolphin Mall opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 11 p.m. and Dadeland Mall will be in operation from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Authorities said if someone sees anything suspicious to immediately call the police.

The NRF said 59% of people shop for the deals of the season, 27% of people shop for the tradition of the holiday shopping season, and 22% of people said shopping on Black Friday is just “something to do.”

“Just come on out, enjoy the shopping festivities, find what you want, have a good time, and you can either shop here, in any of our locations, or go to BrandsMartUSA.com,” said Bryan.

This season, South Florida shoppers said they’re thankful for so much.

“Thankful for life, thankful for family, I’m thankful for health and strength,” said a shopper, “and I’m thankful for the privilege to come and shop when I need to.”

Experts said Black Friday should be spent shopping for flat-screens, gaming consoles, toys and appliances, while Cyber Monday should be for computers, laptops, clothing, cameras, travel subscriptions and even online subscriptions like Netflix.