MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Right now, it’s the busiest time for shopping, but while we’re in a pandemic, many are also hoping to avoid crowds and be outside as much as possible.

The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes is one of the outdoor shopping and lifestyle centers near the metro.

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“People really like the open air, they just want to be outside, so we do attract outside of Maple Grove, definitely,” Jennie Zafft, the marketing director of the Shoppes at Arbor Lakes, said.

Zafft says foot traffic is down this year compared to last, but a new trend they’re seeing is more purchasing, and less window shopping and wondering around.

“The people who are coming are definitely spending. they’re more purposeful,” Zafft said.

Many shoppers WCCO spoke to said they purposefully came to Arbor Lakes to avoid the crowds of indoor malls.

“Too many people, too close contact. I’m guessing the Mall of America and Ridgedale [Center] would just be chaos right now,” shopper Jey Thoennes said.

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Jody Hansen, Mary Roiland and Jane Younghans have been friends since high school and it’s a tradition to go holiday shopping together every year. This year, coming to The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes was the only place they were willing to go.

“We can be together, the three of us, and feel safe,” said Hansen.

To help keep shoppers warm while walking around in below freezing temps, The Shoppes team set up several gas fireplaces along the walkway for shoppers to sit around and warm up.

Several retailers are also offering curbside pickup.

Over at Ridgedale Center, they’ve seen strong foot traffic since Black Friday. In order to prevent people from gathering throughout the mall, they’ve implemented something called “Spot Holder” so shoppers can virtually hold their place in line at several of the stores.

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Ridgedale Center also offers curbside pickup for those looking for contactless option.

Marielle Mohs