I went to a mall on Black Friday — and it confirmed the holiday isn’t the shopping bonanza it once was

The Target inside the Atlantic Terminal Mall at 6:20 a.m. on Black Friday.

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The Target inside the Atlantic Terminal Mall at 6:20 a.m. on Black Friday.
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Sarah Jacobs/Business Insider

  • Black Friday has long been known as the biggest shopping day of the year.
  • Now, thanks to mobile and online shopping and year-round discounts, Black Friday is becoming more than just a single-day event – and shoppers aren’t going to stores like they used to.
  • We went to Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal Mall to see how the in-store shopping scene had changed. It was desolate.

Black Friday sales are surging, but you wouldn’t know it by visiting Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal Mall.

When its anchor store, Target, opened at 6 a.m. on Black Friday, I went to see for myself how the crowds compared with what I remembered from those on Black Fridays past in my childhood in the 1990s.

I found a meager line outside waiting for the mall to open, and even fewer people outside Target and Best Buy.

See what shoppers were buying – and how desolate it looked – below.


I arrived at the Atlantic Terminal Mall just before 6 a.m., and it was still dark out. Stores inside this mall include Target, Victoria’s Secret, Best Buy, Uniqlo, Game Stop, and Marshalls.

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The first store to open was Bath & Body Works. It had been open since 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving evening and will close at midnight on Friday.

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The shoppers inside had already purchased items from J.C. Penney, Kmart, Gap, and Macy’s.

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Target had been open the night before, from 6 p.m. until midnight. This morning, it was opening at 6. About 100 people or fewer were lined up outside to get in.

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As promised, the doors opened right at 6, and we all quickly got inside. I was the last person in a line, and with so much railing unnecessarily set up for crowd control, it made the line look even smaller.

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Not hunting for anything in particular, I followed the group.

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Sarah Jacobs/Business Insider

Everyone seemed to be going upstairs, so I followed.

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Sarah Jacobs/Business Insider

Unsurprisingly, they were all headed for the electronics section.

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Sarah Jacobs/Business Insider

Target was having a massive sale on TVs. Additional product was placed on the first floor near the lingerie department.

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Sarah Jacobs/Business Insider

As I watched the shoppers, I realized almost everyone was buying a TV.

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Sarah Jacobs/Business Insider

It was either the 32-inch Seiki …

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… or two 32-inch Seikis …

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… or the LG UHD 55-inch TV …

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… or the 65-inch Samsung.

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There were other sales going on in the store, but not as many shoppers seemed to care.

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Sarah Jacobs/Business Insider

The second-busiest department was the toys section.

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Sarah Jacobs/Business Insider

Railings were set up for line control inside, too, but two employees I spoke with confirmed that last night was about the same as far as the number of shoppers. As you can see, there weren’t a ton.

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The interior of the mall was somewhat desolate.

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Victoria’s Secret also opened at 6 a.m., but aside from the loud music, it was quiet in there as well.

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Sarah Jacobs/Business Insider

GameStop, which opened at 6 a.m., seemed to have a decent number of shoppers inside its already small store.

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Sarah Jacobs/Business Insider

My next stop was Best Buy, which opened at 8 a.m. and had a line of about 100 people out front.

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Sarah Jacobs/Business Insider

As I waited, two employees came around announcing that the Toshiba 55-inch TV was already sold out from last night’s store hours. Upon hearing that news, some people bailed on the line. Both of the men I was standing with were in line for a TV, a laptop, and tablet.

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Once inside, I immediately noticed the number of TVs placed out on the floor.

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Sarah Jacobs/Business Insider

The shoppers did, too.

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Within minutes, Insigna-Roku televisions were being put onto carts …

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… as well as 32-inch Vizios.

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Sarah Jacobs/Business Insider

On my way back to see if the Target crowds had grown, I passed by a very empty Marshalls.

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I passed one more line on my way back. Curious to know which TV they were looking to buy, I asked and learned it was a line for the Department of Motor Vehicles, which is also located in the Atlantic Terminal Mall.

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While a few more shoppers had shown up by around 9:00, and stores such as Payless Shoes and Verizon had opened, the crowds, especially compared to the amount of products, were still scarce.

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Sarah Jacobs/Business Insider