Black Friday a bust across NYC amid COVID-19 surge

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Black Friday a bust across NYC amid COVID-19 surge

Black Friday was a real bust across the five boroughs — with COVID-19 appearing to ward off the usual crowd of customers from brick-and-mortar shops on what’s traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year.

Social distancing was no problem at Queens Center, the borough’s largest mall in Elmhurst, which was dead early Friday morning compared to the storm of shoppers last year pre-coronavirus.

About 30 shoppers queued up outside Macy’s before it opened at 6 a.m. but the crowd had dissipated just a couple of hours later. The big-box retailer was peddling doorbusters like $19.99 watches and 40 percent off all boots and shoes.

“I got here at 7 (a.m.) but there was no line,” said Akhter Begum, 23, who opted for in-person retail therapy for good reason. “Sometimes online doesn’t show everything. Sometimes the size doesn’t work. Sometimes (items) look different from the pictures.”

One employee suggested the dearth of customers was due to the plethora of online sales merchandisers have been pushing for weeks now.

“We’ve been having Black Friday sales for three weeks now,” the worker said. “We had doorbuster sales two weeks ago. Maybe that’s why more people are not shopping today.”

Another employee hoped for business to pick up later on — once shoppers’ turkey coma wore off.

“I was expecting a big crowd,” she said. “Maybe later. They are resting from yesterday.”

At Macy’s, speakers blared reminders for customers to wear their masks and assured them that heavily trafficked areas were cleaned often. Hand sanitizing stations were also dotted throughout the store.

Meanwhile, in Manhattan, barriers were set up outside the Best Buy near Columbus Circle — but they weren’t needed by mid-morning, when Mauricio Solas walked right in to buy a VR headset.

“I’m pretty surprised,” the 17-year-old student said. “It’s always full every other time, so when you just get to go in and look around, and there is a lot of stock right now, so that’s also pretty cool.”

Overnight, a small crowd of masked patrons waited for Target on 34th Street to open.

This year’s Black Friday scenes in New York City paled in comparison to last year’s when lines streamed down blocks ahead of stores opening, including the now-deserted Columbus Circle Best Buy.

Additional reporting by Khristina Narizhnaya