Black Friday 2019 at Macy’s in New York, versus Black Friday in 2020. Getty Images

To understand how Black Friday 2020 compares to years past, one only needs to look at Macy’s New York flagship store. 

Every year, Macy’s sees thousands of shoppers flood its Manhattan store. The store’s Black Friday deals — typically kicking off after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade — are a symbolic start to the holiday shopping season across America. 

Read more: Head of Macy’s Thanksgiving parade says ‘tradition’ is keeping the event alive this year as other major events get canceled nationwide

This year, however, things are very different. New York City’s holiday tourism business has been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic. Macy’s has rolled out a wealth of new safety precautions. Black Friday crowds are nonexistent. 

Read on to see just how different Macy’s looks on Black Friday 2020, compared to years past. 

Read more: The best Black Friday deals of 2020 to shop now, plus buying advice, and everything else you need to know today

This year, Macy’s did not open until the morning of Black Friday.

KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images

Other major retailers, such as Walmart and Best Buy, did the same in an effort to make in-person shopping safer during the pandemic.

Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

However, experts warned Business Insider that the strategy could backfire if it results in more people showing up all at once during the limited hours.

Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

Read more: Stores are reducing Black Friday sales hours this year but experts says that could actually make shopping less safe

That does not appear to be an issue at Macy’s. The New York Post reports that the New York City flagship had a line of just 30 people when it opened this morning.

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Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

Source: The New York Post

Inside the store, foot traffic was sparse.

Macy’s store during Black Friday in 2020 Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

Shoppers who did show up were required to wear masks.

AP Photo/Anne D’Innocenzio

Let’s compare this scene to Black Friday 2019.

Kena Betancur/Getty Images

Last year, Macy’s opened its New York City flagship at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images

Hundreds of people crowded outside the store, surging inside when the doors opened.

Kena Betancur/Getty Images

To take a step back – 2019 was not seen as a particularly positive holiday shopping season for Macy’s.

Xinhua/Wang Ying via Getty Images

Macy’s had a solid start to the holiday shopping season last year, and then saw sales slump as Christmas Day approached.

Kena Betancur/Getty Images

Source: Markets Insider

The New York Post said Macy’s flagship store was a “ghost town” on Black Friday last year.

Kena Betancur/Getty Images

Source: The New York Post

To be fair, Macy’s had a lot to live up to. Here are the crowds back in 2011:

Bargain hunters shop for discounted merchandise at Macy’s on ‘Black Friday’ on November 25, 2011 in New York City Michael Nagle/Getty Images

But let’s compare 2019’s so-called ghost town…

BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images

… with the store today.

Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

The New York City store is likely being hit harder than other shopping centers across the US. Tourism has plunged in the city during the pandemic, resulting in the loss of many potential shoppers.

The Boss Baby balloon is deflated as it ends its appearance during the modified Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. The balloons were in the sky and the marching bands took to the streets for the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday, but coronavirus restrictions meant it was without the throngs of people usually scrambling for a view. AP Photo/Craig Ruttle

Most retailers are also shifting sales online and extending Black Friday deals, making in-person Black Friday shoppers less important than in years past. In fact, some 80% of shoppers told The NPD Group early in the holiday season that they planned to shop online this year, with just 42% of all holiday shopping taking place in stores according to the market research firm.

Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Read more: The best Macy’s Black Friday deals are now live 


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