Gov. Lamont Tries to Build Consumer Confidence Before Holiday Shopping Season

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Usually in a week from now crowds would be lining up for a shot at Black Friday deals.

“Sometimes I do go to some of the malls and outlets for Black Friday. But this year definitely totally different,” said Trent Gunn of Bristol.

In a twist this year some places including Best Buy and Westfarms will not be open on Thanksgiving.

But you don’t have to wait until Black Friday to find deals as many sales are underway as stores and malls prepare for an unprecedented season.

“We’re frequently cleaning high touch, high surfaces,” said Amanda Sirica, Westfarms spokesperson.

Sirica pointed out other safety measures at Westfarms that have been put in place including social distancing signage and space out seating.

“We’re very cautiously optimistic about the holiday season at Westfarms. We’re seeing foot traffic, sales and our leasing numbers are up,” said Sirica.

Though not everyone is ready to return.

“I used to go more to the mall and things like that. But I just don’t feel safe there,” said Stephanie Silver of West Hartford.

With many planning to shop online, on Thursday Governor Ned Lamont tried to reassure those with COVID-related concerns.

“We do believe that retail can be done safely,” said Lamont.

To do that he thinks stores need help the state with enforcement of rules such as 50% capacity, 6-foot spacing between shoppers and wearing a mask.

Lamont also encouraged stores to add security or staff to monitor what’s going on.

On Thursday he spoke to members of the Connecticut Retail Merchants Association which represents thousands of businesses in the state.

“This is an important season for retailers and we anticipate there will be strong consumer demand and we’re ready for customers. We are ready for them in whatever manner they choose to shop with us,” said Tim Phelan, Connecticut Retail Merchants Association president.

That includes people choosing curbside service and online.

And for those who do want to shop in-person, stores also point out during off hours there’s not as much of a crowd.

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