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Holiday shopping season kicks off amid a mixed economic outlook in Greater Boston

Shoppers at the South Bay Center in 2020. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Shoppers at the South Bay Center in 2020. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Lines of cars snaked through the parking lots at South Shore Plaza in Braintree on Black Friday — the unofficial kick-off to holiday shopping.

"It's our Super Bowl," said Jacqueline Fitzgerald, South Shore Plaza's marketing director.

Local retail experts are expecting strong sales this holiday season despite the pressures of inflation and COVID. And at South Shore Plaza, Fitzgerald said the crowds were bigger than last year.

"We had a ton of young people earlier this morning, shopping with their friends, getting together, reconnecting," she said. "I think we're seeing a lot of new people come through and building these new traditions for kind of a 'Black Friday 2.0' after COVID."

Retailers Association of Massachusetts President Jon Hurst agrees the post-Thanksgiving Friday is different than it used to be, but he says it remains one of the most important days of the holiday season for merchants.

"Is it the way it was, you know, three and four years ago? No," he said. "The pandemic has changed a lot of things."

Outside Best Buy at South Bay Center in Dorchester, Noctis Yamazaki said he sees the effects of inflation on deals for big items like TVs.

"I would say the discount is not there anymore compared to like two years [ago], like $200, $300 off, now it's like $40, $50," he said. "And the stuff, it's like... kind of boring."

But Tomas Arevalo managed to find a good deal regardless. The Dorchester resident walked out lugging a 50-inch HD TV.

"We don't spend like crazy money on stuff like this, and this is like a brand new TV and our first in like seven or eight years," he said. "So I'll take it."

WBUR's Jon Cain contributed to this report.

Walter Wuthmann Twitter General Assignment Reporter
Walter Wuthmann is a general assignment reporter for WBUR.

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