By Bryant Reed

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Today is like comeback season for Black Friday.

After a year where everyone stayed home and stores were closed due to COVID-19, this year shoppers can expect more activity around in-person shopping.

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Customers are expected to spend more money in 2021 than they ever have.

The average person will spend about $1,000 on holiday gifts, and experts believe people have been saving their money and learning how to stretch a dollar.

“Consumers are healthy, $4 trillion in savings on the sidelines,” said Matthew Shay, the president and CEO of the National Retail Federation. “They have paid down debt. We’ve seen $5 trillion of fiscal stimulus.”

However, with supply chain shortages happening, the National Retail Federation says it’s important that if you see something you want, then buy it immediately because it could be gone the next time.

More than $859 billion is expected to circulate from the economy from holiday sales, increasing retail drive up to record numbers.

For those looking for Christmas gifts, toys are expected to be the hardest items to find. Plus, if you do find it, it won’t be cheap. Estimates show the cost of some items has gone up anywhere between 5-17% from last year.

Shoppers are still excited at the Mall At Robinson, which already put out their Black Friday hours, opening at 7 a.m.

“I worked [in the] medical field all my life,” said Tammy, one of the shoppers who were up early. “We worked on holidays. It was like any other day. So to work retail, should be the same on the holiday just like the medical workers. They have to go to work.”

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Shoppers packed in by the hundreds all day.

“I wish there were some stores open for sure,” added Giancarlo Fasano. “To see some other people go out after you eat, not get in the house all day cramped up.”

“We do it every year, it’s a tradition,” said Julie Lopatich from Latrobe. “You can’t not come to Black Friday.”

The Mall At Robinson also has a gift wrap studio inside so shoppers won’t have to wrap gifts on their own. Shopping centers like the mall are doing what they can to draw in customers.

“This weekend we have double points rewards happening,” said Shelley Yugar, the marketing director at the Mall at Robinson. “We have a gift wrap studio. We also have a train for children, and we have Santa, visits with Santa.”

Black Friday shopping isn’t what it used to be.

“There’s usually so many lines and you have to fight for a parking spot, but it’s not like that this year,” said Abbie McClean from Robinson.

“There’s a lot less people this year I feel like. I don’t think it’s as packed as it usually is,” Taylor Nutter from West Virginia said.

Early risers said they’ll still spend their money at some of the same stores, just in a different way.

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“Probably online shop, Amazon Prime, it’s convenient,” said Lopatich. “We just wanted to come out for the experience.