It's beginning to look a lot like the Black Fridays of the pre-pandemic past.
Shoppers were seen at centers across Massachusetts in the early hours of the day, with hopes of scoring some Black Friday deals.
This year's shopping is expected to be better than last year because many stores have a surplus of stock. In the previous year, some retailers struggled with inventory.
Although Cyber Monday is expected to be the biggest shopping day, experts say Friday is still the best for appliances.
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Despite inflation, the Retailers Association of Massachusetts expects holiday spending this year to increase by 10 percent over last year.
Many stores are staying open longer to accommodate spenders. The Burlington Mall has opened 33 new stores and three new entrances.
"The savvy shopper knows to come to the mall on Black Friday because there's some deals that you will not see online and you have to physically be here to Burlington Mall to experience," said Burlington Mall Director of Marketing Sheila Hennessy.
Mark Whiting, the GM at the Northshore Mall in Peabody, said, "if we can keep people here a little longer, spending time with the family, doing things that they love to do that’s obviously very important to us."
"Inventory levels are very high,” he added.
"The deals are pretty good, we got a lot of stuff -- probably too much," shopper Morgan Arsenault said.
We spotted 30, 40 and even 70-percent off in stores, but on Black Friday, some only had eyes for red and white... Santa! The line to take pictures for Santa was the longest one of our NBC10 Boston crews saw on Friday.
"It’s fun to take pictures with him," Nola said.
There are also a lot of local stores at the Northshore Mall, everything from barbershops to toy stores -- and the store owners were all hoping for a busy Black Friday.
"Yeah the rush is great, I love it," Chris Ortega, of Royal Blendz, said. "It gets overwhelming but we handle it."
Edna Cherry's Design shop is full of her own bags, dresses and gifts from around the world.
"It’s kind of fun seeing so many people here. I kind of like it," Cherry said. "It’s not the usual thing but we make do with it."
The Northshore Mall has more than a dozen locally owned stores.
"We actively are going out to try to find local retailers that offer merchandise that would be a good fit here," Whiting said.
Some small business owners have weathered many Black Fridays at the mall, but with online shopping so popular, the intensity level in person is way down in some places.
"Different from the old days there’s not quite the mania," John Bajoras, of Village Silversmith said. "But it’s actually kinda nice cause it’s taken off the pressure. So, the people that are here they want to be out."
Throughout the day, the car line to get into the Wrentham Outlets parking area stretched for miles. It took one NBC10 Boston crew two hours to travel from our station in Needham to Wrentham -- that's four times as long as usual.
It was horrendous traffic, but to be fair, our NBC10 Boston traffic anchor did warn us early Friday that traffic was only moving 6 mph on Interstate 495 approaching the outlets.
To cut down on the slow downs, police were out directing traffic. And with GPS apps offering detours, police closed a lot of side streets in an attempt to keep shoppers from cutting through neighborhoods.
But does it make a difference?
"It's hard to say," said Scott Swenson, who lives almost two miles away from the outlets.
Swenson's driveway was still blocked by traffic Friday evening.
"Tons of people going by all day," he added. "I don't plan on leaving the house."
More on Black Friday
Saving money, but spending time. The waiting didn't end for people after they arrived at the outlets, because the parking lot was another obstacle.
"I had to drive around for about 45 minutes to find a spot," said shopper Chris Roberto, who added it was worth it for his wife.
The lines outside the ships were long, too.
"We waited an hour for Nike when we first got here," Dot Olsen said.
And while it can be a dizzying experience, Angelica Connolly says she has a workaround -- it just doesn't involve much sleep.
"We left the house at 6 a.m. to get here by 6:45 so we beat the traffic," she said. "It's crazy but by the end of the day we will be done with our Christmas shopping."
There will be police details at the Wrentham Outlets throughout the holiday shopping season, because Black Friday is only the beginning.