WINCHESTER — The holiday shopping season officially kicks off this weekend with expanded store hours and discounts.

Circumstances for Black Friday last year were different because it occurred during a particularly bad time in the COVID-19 pandemic when no vaccines were available, resulting in restricted crowd sizes. Now that vaccines are widely available, most restrictions have been lifted. But how the ongoing pandemic will impact sales remains to be seen.

“We do not make predictions on sales and traffic, but I can share that we have been busy preparing for the rush of holiday shoppers,” Tara Highland McInturff, Apple Blossom Mall’s director of marketing and business development, wrote in an email. “People crave connecting in real life, especially considering the pandemic, and find joy in discovering the new and different. Shopping in stores is still the preferred way to shop. This weekend leading up to Black Friday, we saw lots of shopping bags, busy parking lots and opening new stores, which is always a good sign and indicator of a busy holiday shopping season.”

This year, Apple Blossom Mall will be closed on Thanksgiving Day. It will be open from 6 a.m.–10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday.

Some store hours may vary, McInturff noted.

Holiday retailers now open at the mall include: Hickory Farms, KA Native Arts, Personalized Ornaments, Pop It, and Snoozies cozy little foot coverings. Other stores that have recently opened include CellFixx, Megamilkshakes, Just Leggings and Hot Stepper. A new restaurant, Taco Loco, is expected to open in December in the Food Court.

“We encourage shoppers to download the free Simon Mobile app for information about Apple Blossom Mall,” McInturff said. “Also, make sure to follow Apple Blossom Mall’s social media accounts to receive updates on holiday shopping, events, and deals during the holiday season. Santa arrived on November 18 and will be available for visits and photos until Christmas Eve.”

Belk will be open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday. JC Penney will be open 5 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and noon-7 p.m. Sunday.

Both Target stores in the Winchester area will be closed on Thanksgiving Day. They will be open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday.

Dick’s Sporting Goods at 1675 S. Pleasant Valley Road will be open 5 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday.

Best Buy will be open 5 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday.

In Old Town Winchester, many shops will open early and offer discounts for Plaid Friday and Shop Small Saturday. For more information, visit oldtownwinchesterva.com.

— Contact Josh Janney at jjanney@winchesterstar.com

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