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What you need to know before going Black Friday shopping this year

There's less COVID-19 restrictions in stores this year, but there are changes to how the unofficial holiday is normally done.

Black Friday unofficially marks the start of the holiday season, and this year is looking different compared to the last few years. Once again, stores and malls stayed closed during Thanksgiving, and at this time last year, we saw capacity limits and face mask mandates. 

But things should look more normal when businesses open up Friday. There is a face mask advisory in Michigan, so it would be useful to keep one handy before heading out the door. 

Woodland Mall in Kentwood is opening at 7 a.m., and Tanger Outlets in Bryon Center is opening at 6 a.m.

Best Buy and Walmart will open the earlier, unlocking their doors at 5 a.m. tomorrow. Macy's. Lowe's and Home Depot will open at 6 a.m. and T.J. Maxx, Target and GameStop will open at 7 a.m.

Experts with the Better Business Bureau serving West Michigan say even though online shopping was a big hit last holiday season because of the pandemic, they're expecting to see more people shopping in person because of less restrictions this year.

Katie Grevious, Communications Specialist with the BBB Serving West Michigan, wants to remind shoppers to keep in mind the current struggles that retail is facing, including the labor shortage and product delays. She's encouraging patience as we enter another holiday season affected by the pandemic. 

"They may not have the spectacular deals you may be used to from a few years ago, and when you're in those Black Friday lines, they may be much, much longer," she says. "You really need to have patience and empathy for those store owners. They're trying to get you those products as soon as they can."

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