SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The Christmas tree is up, lights are hanging and shopping bags are stuffed to the brim at the Tanger Outlets Savannah.

It’s Black Friday, one of the biggest retail days of the year and the official start to the holiday shopping season.

The general manager of Tanger Outlets Savannah tells News 3 this year’s crowds were bigger than last Black Friday’s, and even the year before that. Buyers hungry for sales flocked to sporting goods, women’s accessories and teen stores.

“I think this year there’s a lot of shoppers out early shopping,” said general manager LaDonna Shamlou. “They started actually at the beginning of this week so we’ve really had a spectacular week. It is a big part of our business and a big part of our holiday shopping season.”

Shamlou said sales are up this year, a trend she expects to continue through the end of the year. Shoppers braving the long lines are happy to be back scoring deals in person, after many chose to stay home last year because of COVID.

“It’s nice, it’s really nice,” said shopper Beverley Beach. “I have my mask. I just had it off for a few minutes, but I haven’t stopped wearing my mask.”

It’s not just Black Friday, but the entire weekend that Shamlou said brings in the packs of people. Even though stores are seeing more shoppers and more cash, they’re still dealing with issues caused by the pandemic.

“Staffing has been a challenge, although most of our stores have done a great job getting staffed up,” Shamlou said. “And ordering early I mean the supply chain you hear a lot about. We have tons of storage already leased out to our stores to get additional merchandise in early.”