Mall of America, the biggest shopping mall in the US, shut its doors on Thanksgiving Day for the first time in five years.
The mall said it wanted to give the holiday back to families by letting employees take the day off – and now that decision appears to be paying off.
The mall is “jam-packed,” according to Deloitte retail specialist Whitney Young, who has been at the Bloomington, Minnesota, shopping center since 5:30 a.m. Friday.
The parking lot was full when she arrived and “traffic has been gaining ever since,” she told Business Insider.
The rush of shopper traffic is surprising, she said, considering predictions that store traffic would fall on Black Friday as more and more people shop online for the holiday.
“While people may be shopping from their couches, they are definitely getting out to stores as well,” she said.
The mall’s retailers have even been shocked by the level of shopper traffic.
Employees at various retailers told Young that their stores are “busier this year than last year, and people are buying more this year than last year,” she said.
About 137.4 million people are expected to shop in stores and online over the Thanksgiving weekend, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. That’s up from 135.8 million who shopped over the long weekend last year.
Overall spending during the holiday period is expected to increase 3.6% over last year, to $655.8 billion.
BIQ Podcast: Black Friday is becoming a battle of values versus values. Some stores open early with doorbuster deals; others are closing and advertising a commitment to family. Listen: