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Last-minute shoppers wait in line at area stores in pandemic-era holiday

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. – A pandemic didn’t seem to affect the procrastinators waiting in a long line to get into Best Buy in Pembroke Pines. Around 11 a.m. Thursday, the line was moving, but it was wrapped around the building. As the day wore on, crowded shopping centers and malls filled up, as did aggressive parking lots.

Because of the coronavirus and trying to stave off large crowds, retailers kicked off the holiday shopping season early, forgoing the big push for Black Friday and instead keep sales going through the month of December.

But the day before Christmas in South Florida still was a hectic shopping day.

Miguel Figueroa picked up some last minute Christmas gifts at Target in Pembroke Pines Thursday. He said Christmas is different this year with a pandemic, but shopping crowds are the usual annual sight.

“The Target store was full and there were a lot of customers. The toys were all gone,” Figueroa said.

Local 10 News caught up with some shoppers who said they did their shopping online, but with items selling out so quickly on websites, they ventured out to find hard-to-get gifts in person.

One last minute shopper told us that everything is practically sold out on line, so she was ready to get in line at Best Buy.

The view from Sky 10 over Sawgrass Malls in Sunrise showed a packed parking lot, the largest outlet shopping destination in the U.S. We saw customers down to the wire at Dolphin Mall, where many were shopping for clothing and high-tech gifts.

Many of the stores were trying to limit how many people were indoors at one time, so shoppers were finding long lines outside of stores waiting to get in.

Figueroa remembers shopping at this time last year. “There were no masks, everyone was with their family. Everyone was holding hands,” he said.

About the Authors:

Saira Anwer joined the Local 10 News team in July 2018. Saira is two-time Emmy-nominated reporter and comes to South Florida from Madison, Wisconsin, where she was working as a reporter and anchor.

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local 10.com.