Restrictions to hit retailers as holidays approach

SAN DIEGO — San Diego County is falling into the state’s most restrictive tier of Coronavirus restrictions, just as holiday shopping season kicks off.

Under the purple tier, retailers are limited to 25 percent capacity in their stores, down from 50 percent that they had been operating under.

Ariel Hujar, who owns the Whiskey and Leather boutique at One Paseo, stocked up on all sorts of gifts for the holidays, including books, cocktail shakers and card games.

“We prepare, we buy extra so if we don’t sell it during this time it’s really hard on us,” she said.

The new tier is the latest turn in a topsy turvy year that has seen retailers go from curbside pickup only to 50 percent in store capacity, cut to 25 percent. The new tier takes effect at midnight Saturday

“It doesn’t help me to be angry about the loss of business,” said Nancy Warwick, owner of Warwick’s bookstore in La Jolla. “What we can do is just do our best right now and hope that customers still support us.”

At Grossmont Center’s Prevue Formal and Bridal, General Manager Caitlin Todd said walk-ins could soon have to be turned away. While bridal sales are up, sales of prom dresses are down 90 percent.

“It’s been kind of just hanging on tight and figuring it out day by day,” Todd said. “We do have to create a new way of setting up our store, but that’s just what everyone’s used to doing now – changing everything.”

Miro Copic, a marketing professor at San Diego State University, said social media marketing and offering discounts of even 5 to 10 percent could make the difference.

“For some of these retailers it will be a decision between life and death, of, will their business go forward, and are they willing to break even to ensure that they continue, versus trying to make sure they eke out a profit,” he said.

The state says jobs in the county’s general merchandise retail stores are down about 12 percent from a year ago.

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