PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - The first relatively normal Thanksgiving weekend since the pandemic, brought thousands of shoppers out to local businesses looking for deals.

In the Pearl District, Northwest 13th Avenue was crowded with people shopping at retail stores or grabbing a bite to eat. Evita Garza is one of those shoppers and she said it's busier this year than last.

“I’m spending a lot of money," Garza said. "I was walking and was like wow, there’s a lot of people out here."

Thanksgiving weekend brings thousands of shoppers to Portland

Image: KPTV

The National Retail Federation projects Americans will spend nearly $859 billion dollars this holiday season, up about 10.5% from last year. This past holiday weekend, businesses are already noticing more customers and more purchases. Bobby Raujo is the Assistant Manager of Filson in the Pearl District. He said he's seen a steady stream of customers over the last three days.

"It’s good to see people out and about and celebrating the holidays," Raujo said. "We’ve had waves of customers in and out by overall it's been pretty nice.”

The Thanksgiving weekend is also full of big sporting events, like the University of Oregon and Oregon State rivalry football game. Some bars saw an increase in business this year without heavy COVID-19 restrictions. Amanda Hagstrom manages River Pig Saloon across the street from Filson. She said with less restrictions, she could welcome more people in to watch football.

“It’s definitely a different vibe," Hagstrom said. "Everyone is in a better mood on our end and the customer side too. I think everyone is a lot happier because there isn’t so many limitations. We can be more accommodating.”

Despite some restrictions in place like mask wearing, business and shoppers said this holiday season is starting to feel normal.

"Usually, the start of the holiday shopping season, there’s all the Christmas lights, the malls and shops are super busy," Garza said. "It feels pretty normal again.”

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