Pasadena’s Pandemic Black Friday: Few In-Person Shoppers, But Relieved Store Owners

Brick and mortar stores could hold their own compared to last year, as digital sales skyrocket
Published on Nov 28, 2020

Shoppers walk along lightly-populated sidewalks in Old Pasadena on Black Friday, November 27, 2020 at about 5 p.m.

The streets of Old Pasadena were calm and with moderate activity on Black Friday afternoon, but local shop owners said they did well despite the smaller crowds. While past holiday weekends typically bring swarms out to Old Pasadena’s historic shopping and dining district, the 2020 coronavirus pandemic created emptier than usual shops and sidewalks.

But a random survey of shops in the area heard relieved store owners.

“We’re doing great,” said Laurie Wirdler, owner of the Finn+Willow clothing store. “There have been a lot of customers who have been out, which has been wonderful. It’s really great to see them supporting small businesses and enjoying the day”.

Wirdler noted that the crowds have been smaller than in previous Black Fridays, but that is what she “expected.”

Bart Doll, a Pasadena resident, said this was his first such event.

“This was very smooth, very easy,” he said, waiting outside a Colorado Boulevard sportswear shop. Doll noted that a number of stores provided a text messaging system, to avoid having shoppers gathering on sidewalks in front of businesses.

One Colorado was lit up beautifully but saw far fewer shoppers than on a regular pre-pandemic weekend. Southern entrance on Friday, November 27, 2020 at about 5 p.m.

Obviously, owing to the pandemic regulations, few stores were crowded and even the ever-popular Nike and Apple stores had short, spaced lines.

Since Pasadena is currently the only city in Los Angeles county still allowing outdoor dining, visitors from all over the region descended on local restaurants.

“We don’t want to stay home alone so we made the trek from Beverly Hills to Pasadena, and it’s so nice that restaurants are still open here,” Pollin Farzin told Fox 11 Los Angeles.

Black Friday is followed Saturday by the Small Business Saturday event that encourages consumers to shop at small, locally owned-retailers.

62% of U.S. small businesses reported that they need to see consumer spending return to pre-COVID levels by the end of 2020 in order to stay in business, according to data on businesses with under 100 employees and reported in an Amex-commissioned Small Business Economic Impact Study.

According to, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the top digital days for holiday 2020. Across the U.S., brick and mortar retail sales are expected to remain almost flat compared to last year.

Projections for Thanksgiving Day, Small Business Saturday and the Sunday before Cyber Monday are showing  increases in online purchases ranging from 36 to 50%.

Online stores are expected to bring in $39 billion over the five top U.S.cyber five digital commerce sales days —Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Sunday and Cyber Monday.

Forbes also projects a 49.5% Thanksgiving Day increase in digital sales as compared to last year, along with a $23 billion digital sales projection for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

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