Wollongong Central and retailers such as Anaconda are embracing Black Friday with the hope it helps kick-start Christmas after a challenging year for many.
Anaconda assistant store manager Lachlan Mitchell said the store started Black Friday sales a week ago after a good response in 2019 and has put on more staff for the event.
Mr Mitchell said smoke from bushfires in NSW last year did limit shopper numbers and he is expecting a much bigger response this weekend.
"We have had 20 to 50 per cent off in the store since last Friday and we are going to have some more intense deals over the weekend," he said.
Mr Mitchell said Anaconda was starting to extend trading hours coming into the busiest time of the year.
"On Friday we are open 8am to 7pm and then over the weekend from 9am to 5pm. We have put on more service staff and our Christmas sales start mid next week."
Mr Mitchell said COVID-19 restrictions actually resulted in an increase in business for camping gear in 2020. He said many people started planning camping trips within NSW when international and interstate borders closed.
"A lot of people have been coming in who have never been camping before," he said.
Wollongong Central centre manager Jasmin North said Black Friday was being embraced by most retailers this year.
"The timing of Black Friday is perfect for early bird Christmas shoppers. The air-conditioning will be on and the Black Friday sales go through the weekend and finish on Monday," she said.
Ms North said many people who have shopped online during Covid are enjoying being able to come back into physical stores. Many shops have put on extra staff to provide additional customer service and ensure shoppers maintain social distancing.
"Foot traffic is up and we are expecting things to ramp up now all the way through to Christmas."
Ms North expects Friday to be one of the busiest days of the year and is encouraging shoppers to stay calm, respect social distancing and use sanitiser stations.
She said extended shopping hours have begun in the lead-up to Christmas.
Wollongong Central is open from 8am to 7pm on Friday and an additional hour of trade has been added to Saturday.
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