San Diego malls prepare for holidays unlike any other

Posted at 4:19 PM, Nov 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-19 20:10:00-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Chicken Charlie Boghosian is best known for the deep-fried concoctions he cooks up at the San Diego County Fair.

But with fairs off the table for 2020, his work has taken a turn. Instead, he's set up a Christmas tree farm in the parking lot of Grossmont Center, with a pop-up eatery right next to it.

"We're just trying to stay busy and trying to make money to keep the employees working and myself to keep playing the bills," Boghosian said.

This — just one of the unique things happening in 2020 at malls across the county — which normally are preparing all sorts of events to welcome holiday shoppers.

"We feel with our outdoor setting, our big, wide-open spaces to walk, shopping here is as safe as it could be in this time," said Trevor Moore, marketing director at Grossmont Center.

Moore said the mall had to cancel traditional events, including Santa's appearances, in exchange for a series of socially distant ones. On Thursday, it held a blood drive with hundreds of appointments.

But Moore said the holiday decorations are up, the music is playing, and the mall's giving out free masks.

Larger retailers, such as Best Buy and Target, have spread out their Black Friday specials over days or weeks. However, the retailers are under capacity limitations amid coronavirus restrictions. While that could hit the bottom line, customers who do go may benefit.

"A lot of consumers don't want to be bothered but if there is a question, there will be somebody there to answer that question and you're not going to go around the store trying to find somebody," said Miro Copic, a marketing professor at San Diego State University.

Copic said the question moving forward is whether in 2021, whether consumers who buy all online this year come back to the malls, or whether their habits changed forever.