Allen Park — A night normally packed with long lines in front of stores, hot deals and midnight traffic was practically deserted Thursday in Metro Detroit as malls and most retailers were closed to Thanksgiving Day shopping amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A few dozen people were at the Allen Park Meijer store shortly before it closed at 4 p.m., grabbing last-minute Thanksgiving items and taking advantage of its day-before Black Friday buy-one-get-one for $1 deals.

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Jenny Fought of Dearborn Heights had the Meijer store in Allen Park largely to herself on Thanksgiving Day before it closed at 4 p.m. (Photo: Clarence Tabb Jr., The Detroit News)

Meijer manager James Cherman said there were many fewer in-store shoppers Thursday than he anticipated, and predicts a long-lasting change in the industry.

“This pandemic might change Black Friday for years to come,” he said. “We’ll see how this weekend goes.”

Jenny Fought from Dearborn Heights finished cooking Thanksgiving dinner early and headed to Meijer to shop for her three young kids. Her cart was filled with half-off game, toys and stuffed animals.

“I was pretty bummed this year when they said many stores would be shut down, and I’m not a good online shopper,” said Fought, 39. “It’s probably better though, because I’m spending more time at home with family this year rather than shopping.”

Victoria Kelsey from Dearborn was pleasantly surprised to have the Meijer electronic aisles to herself.

“I absolutely hate Black Friday,” said Kelsey, 31. “There’s nowhere else that was open and it sucks, but I would rather people be safe. There’s nothing that would make it worth it for me. I hate crowds and would rather pay full price than to stand in line for hours. I’m glad even Meijer is closing early.”

The store hopes to attract shoppers with hot items like 40 Sony PlayStation 5’s for sale only online Friday to be picked up through the store’s curbside pickup.

Still, Jerome Stevenson researched the LG 75-inch television he wanted and found Meijer to be the only store to have it in stock at a competitive price.

“This year is obviously different. For my son and I, this is our regular routine and this TV was on sale for $699,” said Stevenson, 46, from Detroit. “The benefit of this year is that there are no long lines, which is great.”

Black Friday forecast

Apple Wick, assistant general manager at Macomb Mall, said comparing this year to any previous year is almost impossible with the pandemic affecting every aspect of American life.

“Retailers have been preparing for this weekend and season since reopening from the lockdown in June,” Wick said. “Guests can expect to find retailers adhering to not only the State of Michigan mandates and CDC recommendations, but also