South Florida malls prepare for holiday shoppers amid pandemic

Holiday shopping this year will be different due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Many are hitting stores like the Brandsmart USA in Dania Beach for those coveted doorbuster deals.
“So I planned it where there would be no people,” said a Brandsmart shopper.
Several South Floridians decided to start their holiday shopping on Wednesday at Dolphin Mall to avoid a potentially large crowd on Black Friday.
“I’m trying to see what kind of deals the stores are offering and what kind of sales everyone’s offering,” said shopper Mai Cenise. “The pre-Black Friday sales, I want to see what that’s all about.”
When asked if she would be back on Black Friday, Cenise replied, “No, definitely not, that’s why we’re here today.”
Whether they’re shopping at Sawgrass, Dadeland, Aventura or Dolphin Mall, it won’t be business as usual. While people can still find Black Friday deals, they’ll also find safety measures that have been put in place to help shoppers avoid contracting COVID-19.
“Cleaning, hand sanitizers, masks, people asking for social distancing,” said Digital Universe manager Jesus Garcia.
Stores at Dolphin Mall are taking the necessary steps to accommodate the expected influx of shoppers while keeping everyone safe, customers and employees.
7News cameras captured social distancing markers on the floors and hand sanitizer stations throughout the mall.
Stores are also reducing the number of customers inside at one time. Other stores are going above and beyond.
“At the registers, we’re taking the message that only one person will pay, so it’s not going to be too many people, and we will maintain our social distancing,” said Old Navy general manager Samia Din.
Select stores, like Old Navy, are offering contactless shopping. If you don’t feel comfortable walking into the store to pick up your favorite items, you can order them online or over the phone, and an employee will bring it out to your car.
Several stores are now offering a curbside pick-up option and virtual queuing to avoid long lines.
Shoppers said they feel comfortable in-person shopping with all of the safety guidelines and services in place.
“It feels so safe using masks,” said a shopper.
“The stores are doing a good job as well, keeping everybody safe,” Cenise said.
Although stores are doing their part to keep workers and customers safe, many shoppers are opting for online shopping.
Police said they’re going to be doing their part this weekend with a heavy presence at the Dolphin Mall.
“Inside, outside, undercover, patrolling the outer perimeters of the mall. We got a unit that’s going to be working tirelessly throughout the weekend to make sure there’s nobody that’s going to be breaking into cars,” said Sweetwater Police officer Jonathan Arche.
Dolphin Mall also made free COVID-19 testing available in the parking lot.
Dolphin Mall will be closed on Thanksgiving but on Friday, the mall will be expanding its hours of operation from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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