Families flocked to Coronado Center on Black Friday looking for vacation deals. The mall closed last year during the state’s pandemic shutdown. At 10 a.m. the mall was teeming with shoppers wearing masks. (Roberto E. Rosales / )
Copyright © 2021
Randy Sanchez woke up at 6 a.m. on Friday, checked his email, and went to work.
This, he hoped, would be his busiest day of the year.
Sanchez is the general manager of Albuquerques Coronado Center – the largest mall in New Mexico – and it was Black Friday.
This Black Friday was even more important than usual.
A year ago, the state’s pandemic shutdown closed the mall on Black Friday. This year, it wasn’t just a big day of shopping – it was a foretaste of the retailer’s busiest season.
According to the National Retail Federation, retailers generate roughly 40% of their annual sales during this time of year. And that year, the association forecast an increase of between 8.5% and 10.5% to $ 843.4 billion to $ 859 billion nationwide in November and December.
Last year, the peak was $ 777.3 billion.
“We were closed last year,” said Sanchez. “I think buyers and consumers are ready to come back. You have been locked up. “
Randy Sanchez, General Manager of the Coronado Center, collects rubbish in front of one of the entrances to the mall on Black Friday. Sanchez has been in the mall for nearly three decades. (Roberto E. Rosales / )
For many families, shopping on Black Friday is a tradition.
At 10 a.m. the mall was teeming with shoppers wearing masks.
Some stores had queues at the entrance due to a labor shortage in the country to ensure the limited number of staff could serve customers.
Cinnabon was busy with shoppers chewing their famous sweet buns. A small train with a few passengers rolled by on the second floor of Macy’s and the bell rang. A man was playing Space Invaders on a big screen TV at a newsstand.
Linda Montaño, who arrived at the mall around 11 a.m., said she was there to pick up a present for her father, Pat.
“It’s his birthday today,” said the Albuquerque resident.
But after picking up his gift, she planned to take advantage of the day’s deals.
“It’s pretty amazing,” she said. “Everyone goes shopping on Black Friday. It’s interesting that the people are here. You can actually talk to people. “
This was the first Black Friday for Tina Walters and Lindsay Smith, both from Albuquerque.
“I’ve never done this in my life,” said Walters, adding that she was having a good time. It was the first time, she said, that she could afford it.
Shoppers raved about Coronado Mall during Black Friday. (Roberto E. Rosales / )
Smith had gotten some presents for her children.
The deals, she said, “were OK deals”.
For Sanchez, who went from door to door looking for trash, the day was all about “making sure the customer experience is ideal”.
“Touchpoints, what is your first impression when you first step in? How is the customer experience? Is the mall clean? Are the entrance areas clean, ”he said. “It’s not uncommon for people who live on the outskirts of Albuquerque – Tucumcari, Roswell, to come here. It’s a tradition. “
While on his trash patrol, he met Catalina Mendoza, a clerk in a shopping mall who had the same mission: picking up rubbish. In total, the mall has 3,000 store employees, Sanchez said. So far this Black Friday, things have been going “exactly according to plan,” said Sanchez.
In fact, many of the mall’s stores had seen sales surge in the past two months.
“Buyers went out early and bought,” said Sanchez. “It’s a new day and things that give me goosebumps are that I see pedestrian traffic at 10:30 in the morning, and it only gets louder between 2 and 4 pm.”
Nationally, the story was largely the same. Black Friday sales – including online – rose 12.1% through the morning as measured by Mastercard SpendingPulse, which tracks spend on all types of transactions, including cash and credit cards, according to The Associated Press.
National retailers said fears of not being able to get the items they wanted helped bring people back to physical stores.
“If you see it, buy it,” said Sanchez. “You don’t know if it will be there later.”
As for predictions for the Coronado Center, the busy show of the day reinforced Sanchez’s belief that “bricks and mortar are alive and well.”
“We like to call this r-commerce, like ‘real trade,'” he said. “You hear about e-commerce; we call it ‘real trade’. “
As the day went on, the mall got busier, as Sanchez had predicted. There was activity everywhere and Sanchez was a happy man.
A 28-year-old shopping center employee runs in his blood.
“This is my home away from home,” said Sanchez. “When you have guests in your house, it’s like making sure the house is clean, and this is like my big house. It’s a little big. About 1.2 million square feet, but this is my home away from home. “