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A break from the mad rush as the holiday shopping season begins

Retail outlets are expecting fewer customers due to COVID-19 rules this holiday season, but their discounts are still worth the trip.
Retail outlets are expecting fewer customers due to COVID-19 rules this holiday season, but their discounts are still worth the trip. (KEYT photo)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The elbows-out approach to holiday shopping will be much different this year with COVID-19 rules in place and many people staying close to their computer.

Usually the day after Thanksgiving is quite the rush for retails outlets.

Only some had early morning hours and "door-busters."

The strategy this year will be a combination of in-store deals and other price drops for online shoppers.

The purple tier rules in Santa Barbara require only a 25 percent store capacity in retail businesses. Staff members will be using counters at the door and offer sanitation stations.

Shopper Star Mulligan says the rush she's seen in the past is not happening this year.   "Not this year at all, it's relaxed."

Downtown Santa Barbara did have lines outside of many stores due to spacing requirements, but that's become expected.

"We wanted to come down and support our local businesses," said Diana Wickline who was up and out at 8 a.m. with her two kids to get some early bird deals.   "We had a plan.  We wanted to hit  Levi and Volcom which are the two stores my two kids love to shop at and they opened at 8 a.m. and we were the first ones in and the first ones out."

Wickline works at the Upham Hotel and supports local businesses.  "They are really trying hard to stay open."

Walking with her mother, Katie Mulligan revealed what she was looking for.  "Christmas presents,  can't reveal too much. Mostly stuff for my friends ,stuff for my family."   She also pulled out a Psyche shirt from a TV show with  Santa Barbara backdrops.

When it comes to a discount that draws a shopper in this year, Cesar De Luna said, "it has to be like 50 (percent).  Over 50 yeah then it's good."

He will be splitting his time between going to local stores and looking from his computer . "It's probably going to be more on line we're just looking now, since it's not too packed. There's some pretty good deals, yeah."

Star Mulligan says, "it's going to be a little less and it will be both.  I normally don't do online but because of what it is I'm going online and yet we're doing shopping."

 Noticeably missing this year, are seasonal carolers and holiday music all  due to entertainment rules in place.  But the Mulligans who were on an overnight trip found plenty of joy.   "Well we're on vacation we're upbeat. Ha Ha   I'm spending money," said Star.

Economists believe on line sales will exceed a 25 percent increase over 2019. The largest day for online sales will likely be Cyber Monday when deep discounts and specials for one day only, will be offered.

Adobe Analytics tracks online sales and the company says Cyber Monday could be a $12.7 billion payday for businesses and set a record.

There are still many customers who shop in person, compare pricing on their phone and work the numbers as they go to get the best savings.

Santa Barbara's Paseo Nuevo Mall has made significant upgrades in the last year and is working with the city on future options for the largest, now empty, buildings where Macy's and Nordstroms had been.

A large, colorful Christmas tree is in the center courtyard.

For many small businesses the next month will be vital to their survival, due to this unprecedented year with the virus impacts on customer shopping confidence and overall sales.

There is a focus day called Small Business Saturday and something new ahead called Small Brewery Sunday where you might see some enticing specials.

For a guide to some of the special days ahead go to: Downtown Santa Barbara

Article Topic Follows: Money and Business

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


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