Shoppers return to DC-area malls in droves

Tysons Corner
While people with bags in hands went from store to store, some admitted they were a bit anxious being among the crowds indoors.

Tysons Corner
Some stores left amid the pandemic, while many remained and vacant spaces were filled with news retailers.

Tysons Corner
Some events shoppers could not do last year are returning, including a breakfast with Santa Clause for kids, which will take place on Dec. 4.

Tysons Corner
The halls were packed, with some stores seeing lines of people waiting to enter.

Tysons Corner
At Tysons Corner Center in Tysons, Virginia, people inched through blocks of car traffic to reach the garages. Meanwhile inside, the halls were packed, with some stores seeing lines of people waiting to enter.

Tysons Corner
Despite the pandemic, this year, D.C.-area malls were packed with Black Friday shoppers.

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At shopping malls around the D.C. region, people were shopping like it was Black Friday 2019 — before the coronavirus and its impact figured into the everyday lives of Americans.

At Tysons Corner Center in Tysons, Virginia, people inched through blocks of car traffic to reach the garages. Meanwhile, the halls inside of the mall were packed, with some stores seeing lines of people waiting to enter.

“Traffic and sales are kind of on par with 2019, so we are just happy to be back to some sense of normalcy here,” said Lindsay Petak, is a senior marketing manager with the mall.

She said the mall has seen a steady increase in traffic over the past three weeks, so it wasn’t surprising to them that the crowds were reminiscent of those seen before the pandemic.

Petak said that in addition to people just looking to get out of their homes and shop, stores also lured them in with steep discounts.

For shopper Elizabeth Bjork of Falls Church, Virginia, she said the desire to get out of the house brought her and her family out to the mall this year.

“I think it feels like it is just as overwhelming as it was two years ago,” Bjork said.

Some at the mall admitted that online shopping was more convenient, but they preferred coming to a brick-and-mortar store.

“To me, I like to see things in person still, try them on,” Loudoun County resident Scott Goldberg said.

And some events shoppers could not do last year are returning, including a breakfast with Santa Clause for kids, which will take place on Dec. 4.

“We really are adding a lot this year — things that we couldn’t do last year — and people are really excited about that,” Petak said.

While people with bags in hands went from store to store, some admitted they were a bit anxious being among the crowds indoors.

“I really enjoy it, but it’s a little stressful, still a little stressful with so many people today,” said shopper Sharon Craddock, of Upper Marlboro.

In response to the pandemic, Petak said the mall has installed a hospital-grade air ventilation system, and signs with COVID-19 safety tips are posted. Petak said although they are not required, many shoppers are using face coverings.

While some stores left amid the pandemic, Petak said many remained and vacant spaces were filled with new retailers. For the businesses that remained, it has been tough since the pandemic began, but she said it’s good to see their locations filled with people once again.

“When everything happened, everyone was sort of scrambling and not really sure what that would do for the future of retail, and it’s just been very positive to know that physical retail is back,” Petak said.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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