Like so many things in 2020, this year's Black Friday shopping was different.
To start the usually chaotic shopping day, instead of the typical midnight rush, many stores opted to push back their hours and prioritize deals online. Shoppers said it was a weird experience for them.
"And I love Black Friday, so this is very weird," Janaye Dion, of Melrose, said. "But we're still shopping."
"For many years you're used to going Black Friday shopping with a crowd of people and it's fun, it's festive so it's just different seeing less people," Kabrina Pierce, of Malden, said. "The spirit... it doesn't feel as Christmas-ey and the spirit is a little bit lower but we're trucking along. We're going."
Market Street in Lynnfield got busier as the day went on but COVID-19 restrictions were evident throughout. Masks and social distancing are the rule, and you couldn't just walk in the door at the Apple store.
"They told us to make a reservation at 11:00 so you need to like fix your schedule to manage with the COVID stuff so it's not easy," said Miranda Efuelefac, of Peabody.
But people say they understand the need, and stores in Lynnfield were doing what they could to accommodate shoppers with things like curbside pickup.
"We also have stores like Carhartt who are doing apps for line queing. So if you don't feel comfortable standing in a line they'll text you when it's ready and you can shop in a store that's comfortably not filled with people," said Charlotte Woods, Market Street GM.
Peabody resident Michael Caeri says it's too bad.
"Like all the years of the hustle and bustle of Christmas isn't going to be the same this year but I think it's okay if everyone takes precautions and wears their mask," Caeri said. "I think everything's okay."
Market Street has the advantage of being outdoors because the virus doesn’t spread as easily outside, which has people looking to avoid indoor shopping more than usual.
Elsewhere, at the Walmart in Tewksbury, doors remained shuttered until 6 a.m., and the scene remained a very calm and orderly opening. Shoppers were counted at the door and spaced out 6 feet apart, pausing every so often so no one got bunched up or too close to each other.
Other shopping hubs saw similar drops in crowds, like the Natick Mall, which saw shoppers arrive but still had plenty of available parking spaces Friday morning — a far cry from the normally packed lots.
In light of COVID precautions, retailers generally have had their bigger deals online, so shoppers weren’t rushing to grab the big screen TVs and doorbusters, which also helped to keep the smaller crowds controlled.
“They made us walk in like the same line throughout the whole store, and we couldn’t take any turns anywhere to interfere with each other, so it was good,” said Elizabeth Fuqua, who was out shopping for her mother.
Others who made the trek also appreciated the lighter crowds they found.
"It was actually really good, I'm not going to lie. It was very calm," another shopper said. "No one's pushing, no one's trying to outrun - because there's nobody in the store. It was great. This, I can do every year."
The chilly temperatures and foggy weather may have also kept casual shoppers from venturing out, knowing the deals really aren’t any better at 6 a.m. than they will be throughout the day.