While most popular gifts draw some shoppers, far fewer seek late-night Black Friday deals amid pandemic

CHICAGO — While Black Friday deals can typically draw shoppers willing to wait for hours Thanksgiving night, far fewer came out Thursday as many avoid crowds during the pandemic. 

Most of those waiting outside a Chicago Gamestop said they were there for one of two things: the new XBox or PS5 video game consoles. 

GameStop doesn’t open until 7 a.m. Friday morning. Although it’s cold and coronavirus case numbers are at a high point statewide,they said it’s worth taking the risk.

“It does not concern me personally because of the people I’m with right now, the family, and I know they don’t got Covid but if it’s random people then yes that’s it, I do what I have to do to protect myself,” said a shopper who identified himself as Cito.

Dressed in layers to protect themselves from the cold, many found clever ways to pass the time.

“I brought my laptop, call my girlfriend, just relax; akes the time go by,” Christopher Neal said.

Over at the Best Buy in Bucktown, the proud father is waiting to hopefully get the PS5 for his 15-year-old daughter who made straight A’s.

“I been here nine, he’s been here seven, she’s been here two hours. It’s ok, it’s cold out here. We just been waiting hoping that we get lucky on the PS5,” Neale said.

Last year, many were lined up outside stores Thanksgiving night, waiting in line for next day’s Black Friday deals. But this year, that’s not the case. The mall was closed Thursday and no one is waiting outside.

Across Illinois and the U.S., increases in the number of positive coronavirus cases have retailers like Target, Walmart, Macy’s and Best Buy closed Thursday, but some will reopen on Friday.