Live updates: A year ago, many stores were closed. Is Black Friday back to normal now?

A Best Buy employee ushers in Black Friday shoppers at 5a.m. in Durham, N.C. on Nov. 26, 2021.

A Best Buy employee ushers in Black Friday shoppers at 5a.m. in Durham, N.C. on Nov. 26, 2021.

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A rainy morning didn’t deter the most dedicated Black Friday shoppers from claiming doorbuster deals.

“We’re kind of just here to browse, and figured it wouldn’t be that busy,” said Danny Esperanza, from Durham.

Esperanza was one of 24 shoppers queued up by 5 a.m. outside Best Buy on Fayetteville Road in Durham. He left with a new 65 inch TV.

“Good deals are what it’s about,” he said.

Another shopper named Marguerite was there for laptops — and the thrill.

““I missed the tradition of it all,” she said. “I always liked the midnight openings after Thanksgiving. It’s exciting… And I’m a tangible person. I need to see things and touch them.”

But for many, Black Friday has lost its allure. After last year’s shutdown, many retailers adjusted their holiday shopping season to offer Black Friday deals weeks or months in advance.

“We began offering holiday deals in October for those looking to shop early and we’re continuing to deliver big savings all season long, including Black Friday week,” Christina Hennington, executive vice president and chief growth officer at Target, said in a press release.

Danny Esperanza, left, prepares to put his new television into a friend’s truck with the help of a Best Buy employee in Durham, N.C. on Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. Julia Wall [email protected]

A Best Buy shopper named Max said the only reason he visited the store in person on Friday was because he expected little competition.

“I’ve never been into Black Friday,” he said. “I’m only here now because I figured there wouldn’t be a stampede.”

At Bass Pro Shop in Cary, about 200 people waited for the doors to open at 5 a.m. By 5:30, the crowd had dwindled, but the store’s general manager still counted the morning a massive success.

“Last year was quite subdued,” said Ernie Brunetti, who’s run the store for three years. “People weren’t really shopping. This year, I wouldn’t say it’s back to normal, but still 100% different than last year.”

Black Friday shoppers walk through Bass Pro Shops in Cary, N.C. with full carts before 6a.m. on Nov. 26, 2021. Julia Wall [email protected]

This story will be updated throughout the day. Have a Black Friday experience today that you’d like to share? Send me a note.

This story was originally published November 26, 2021 7:34 AM.

Lars Dolder is a business reporter at The News & Observer with a focus on retail.

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