SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Malls across San Diego County did not experience the rush of last-minute shoppers on Christmas Eve, as the coronavirus continues to take its toll on the economy and life in general.
"We used to have to have the employees park in a different section that was further away so it left the open spots for customers, we haven't needed to do that this year," said Caitlin Todd, manager at Grossmont Center's Prevue Formal and Bridal.
Todd said other than Target and Sees, the mall has been less busy this holiday season. She said it's not just the economy, but also that the coronavirus has made in-person shopping a more practical matter.
"With restaurants not having as much ability to have indoor dining or outdoor dining, it's been more of a 'come, get what you need and leave,' kind of shopping experience, versus an all-day thing with the family," she said.
The virus has taken a toll on the retail industry, with employment in department stores down 28% compared to the same time last year. Malls have instituted social distancing, limited entertainment, and retailers are limited to 20% capacity - meaning lines to get in.
Still, shoppers who needed to did make their to get those last minute gifts. Calob Ross drove from Escondido to Westfield UTC to get a gift only available at the Nordstrom at that location. He said he noticed all of the restrictions and the smaller crowds.
"I feel like it might not be as busy due to people not wanting to go out and be in public with everything going on right now," he said, noting he had just gotten paid and wanted to use the money to get a gift in time for the holiday.