SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – The coronavirus pandemic could not keep bargain hunters from shopping on Black Friday. Lines to enter some stores at the San Francisco Premium Outlets, in Livermore were up to 90 minutes long.

The line for bargain hunters actually started on Interstate 580 in a traffic jam. For a good part of Friday, there was a long line of cars trying to exit the freeway to get into the parking lot. Once inside, it was another 20 to 30 minutes of looking for a parking spot.

“It’s really busy out here, so, there are long lines, said shopper Margaret Robertson, who drove from Sunnyvale. “I had to park on the other side (away from the main parking lot).”

The lines got even longer once people were at the stores. Two workers told shoppers waiting at the end of one line the wait to get inside Michael Kors was about 90 minutes long. In fact, there were lines to get into all of the popular stores.

Shoppers said the crowd sizes at the Premium Outlets were similar compared to previous years. The only difference, this year, people were wearing masks.

“There’s always going to be that little bit of concern, as always. But I’ve got my sanitizer and I’m prepared for it,” said Robertson.

UCSF’s Dr. Peter Chin-Hong sai- outdoor shopping is considered low-risk as long as everyone wears a mask and stands six feet apart. His concern is when people take off their masks to snack while waiting in lines.
But many shoppers said they knew the risk.

“Being it’s more of an outdoor environment, so absolutely, I’m willing to brave that,” said Robertson.

It was very different at San Francisco’s Union Square shopping district where the crowd was much smaller compared to previous Black Fridays. Very few shoppers were walking around on Friday morning. There was a picket line of workers on strike outside of Macy’s. It didn’t appear too busy inside. There was a short line in front of Louis Vuitton, but many stores did not have lines Friday morning.

“This is a different Black Friday. 2020 is a different Black Friday,” said Paul Panis, the shopkeeper at Goorin Bros Hat Shop, just half a block away from Union Square.

Panis was disappointed there wasn’t a line outside of his store this year, but he understood the fear of COVID-19.
“We’re living in a virtual world, and that’s how we’re going to get it, through our Instagram, through online, through our clientele,” said Panis.

The Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek saw a lot of people on Friday. But shoppers said it was a little less crowded compared to previous years. BThere were lines in front of Lululemon and the Apple store.

“We always wear masks and we always keep our distance. And everybody else seems to be doing the same,” said shopper Robert Steele. “They’re not letting the stores get too crowded. So if you’re careful and cautious, I think you can shop and do it safely.”

“It’s a lot mellow than I anticipated traditionally,” said shopper Emili Tiedemann.