By CBSLA Staff

WEST COVINA (CBSLA) — Thanksgiving has become the day that kicks off the holiday shopping season.

While the sprint is still on for the season’s hottest gifts, Black Friday looks a bit different this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Before the pandemic, Black Friday shopping hours were creeping up earlier and earlier each year. But, in true 2020 fashion, things have changed quite a bit this year. For the first time in recent memory, store fronts and parking lots are empty.

“It’s just not the same,” said shopper Andrea Bravo. “No shopping, no Black Friday…it’s very depressing.”

Bravo is one of millions of shoppers across the country being discouraged from crowding brick-and-mortar stores this gift-giving season. Forced to operate at limited capacity, retailers had to reimagine their Black Friday promotions.

Many rolled out deals days or weeks earlier than usual. They’re also offering curbside service to reduce the strain on shipping carriers.

“I don’t know what I’m gonna do. I really don’t,” Bravo said. “Probably just do online shopping, but even then I don’t even know if my mail is gonna come in on time.”

Crystal Valdivia said she’ll probably shake up her shopping a bit, but she doesn’t think it’d be such a bad thing if camping outside stores goes away for good.

“No, it’s crazy,” she said.

Some industry experts think the pandemic could permanently alter consumers’ Black Friday shopping habits.

E-commerce is expected to jump 33%. With half of U.S. shoppers saying they wouldn’t buy from a store again if the delivery experience was poor, the pressure to adapt is on.

The National Retail Federation believes consumers will spend about 5% more this year because families want to treat each other for having such a difficult year.