MIAMI (CBSMiami) – South Florida shoppers lined up early hoping to score deals at local malls and shopping centers, as Black Friday kicked off the holiday shopping season.
At a Walmart in Doral, one family waited six hours so they could be some of the first to get inside. What were they hoping to find a deal on?READ MORE: Prices At The Pump Creep Lower, Forecast To Tumble Below $3 A Gallon Soon, Government Forecasts
“A 70 inch TV. Yes, that’s it. A TV and an Xbox. I’m here with my son and my daughter-in-law,” said Nilda Castillo.
It was her first time doing Black Friday. She began camping out at 11 p.m. the night before and says she was impressed by how smoothly things went.
“You know what, I am surprisingly shocked, it was super organized. No one was pushing or cutting in line. It was actually pretty good,” said Castillo.
Many malls chose to stay closed on Thanksgiving day and opened early on Friday.
The General Manager of Dolphin Mall, Pete Marrero, said they’re expecting a large number of shoppers, as customers rush to stores in fear they’ll run out of supplies.
“We expect now more crowds than obviously than last year, but we expect more crowds than we saw in 2019,” said Marrero.
The Dolphin Mall, which opened at 9 a.m, will close at midnight.
Jason Shinobi Wilson and his cousin also went Black Friday shopping at Dolphin Mall for the first time.
“I took a one way out here to spend time with family,” said Shinobi Wilson, who shared a very personal reason why he wanted to go. “I was in a car accident 8 months ago this year.”
Shinobi Wilson was paralyzed from the stomach down and had to re-learn how to walk and use his hands again.READ MORE: Record Warmth In South Florida And This Is What's Causing It
“Today was the day I decided to walk as much as I can. I almost lost my life this year, “said Shinobi Wilson. “I wanted to experience something I’ve never done before.”
Joel Nunez came to the mall with 18 family members total.
“Everyone lives in a different state,” his family explained.
Nunez’s mom was still on the way from Boston. Many are from the Dominican Republic, which is why after 20 months of the pandemic and isolation, the family was ecstatic to just be together again.
Marrero said they usually see larger crowds arrive in the afternoon and evening, so if you want to beat the rush you should get to the mall early.
Stores across South Florida are predicting brisk business through the weekend.
The National Retail Federation predicts holiday sales this year could hit up to $859-billion, which would be a record. This year, the average person is expected to buy about a thousand dollars worth of holiday items.
Spending that money, however, may require some searching, as many in-demand products have become exceedingly hard to find. Delays at ports and a nationwide trucker shortage have left stores struggling to keep shelves stocked.
Toys are among the items that could be hard to come by.
“Gaming systems as well. The newer Xbox, PlayStation, the new Nintendo Switch OLED version are virtually impossible to find and shoppers are going to have to hope that retailers keep them in stock,” said Kristen McGrath with RetailMeNot.com
Retail experts say any gift you want, get it now.MORE NEWS: Suspicious Person Call Leads To Police Activity In South Miami-Dade
In addition to product shortages, shoppers will have to contend with inflation and higher prices. One estimate said the cost of many items has risen anywhere from 5 to 17 percent from a year ago.