By ANNE D'INNOCENZIO, The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Retailers are expected to usher in the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season Friday with bigger crowds than last year in a closer step toward normalcy. But the fallout from the pandemic continues to weigh on businesses and shoppers' minds.

Buoyed by solid hiring, healthy pay gains and substantial savings, customers are returning to stores and splurging on all types of items. But the spike has also resulted in limited selection across the board as suppliers and retailers have been caught flat-footed.

Shortages of shipping containers and truckers have helped to delay deliveries, while inflation continues to creep.

The combination of higher prices and lack of inventory could make for a less festive mood.

11 Ways to Avoid Getting Ripped Off When Holiday Shopping Online

The world-wide shipping delays have shoppers buying holiday gifts early this year and much of the commerce is happening online. After all, how can you avoid the amazing deals? Now more than ever, these amazing deals are shady transactions that look authentic and safe.

One way to shop safely online is to buy from local vendor websites, or visit sites like Etsy which touts small meaningful gifts, often times created by small businesses and crafters.

The Better Business Bureau recommends online buyers do research before they click the checkout button.

Here are 11 things you can do to avoid getting ripped off online, according to the Better Business Bureau.

Take A Look Inside The Abandoned ShoppingTown Mall In Dewitt, NY

Onondaga County currently owns the ShoppingTown Mall located in Dewitt New York near the Syracuse area. As of today, the mall is abandoned. The future of the building will go to someone who has the best vision for it. Onondaga County has issued an official request for proposals (RFP) for ShoppingTown Mall. The property will be resold to the buyer with the best plan for revitalizing the vacant property.
Proposers will need to have a demonstrated history of producing "high quality projects," according to the statement. They will also need to produce financial information related to the project."
Jordan Harmon was able to tour the property and take plenty of photos recently with permission from Onondaga County:
The main purpose of this shoot was to document this historical structure before any alterations occur. I grew up with this mall, I can remember coming here as a kid. This was the place my family did our back to school shopping and the place where I’d blow my allowance at Fun Junction playing laser tag. To see it now is shocking to say the least. The former owner of the mall clearly made no effort to maintain it, let alone stop the hundreds of leaks in the roof.

The Most Popular Movies on Netflix This Week

These are the top ten most-watched movies on Netflix in the U.S. for the week of December 12, 2021.

2021 Gift Guide For Film and TV Fans

The movie or television lover in your life will love these fun, cool, silly gifts.