Scenes from the mall

’Tis the season, but are shoppers buying in?

Bob Wooley
bwooley@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 12/25/20

To say there were few people shopping at Southwest Plaza on Dec. 14, less than two weeks from Christmas, would be an inadequate description. A number of storefronts are closed. Those that are open …

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Scenes from the mall

’Tis the season, but are shoppers buying in?

Posted

To say there were few people shopping at Southwest Plaza on Dec. 14, less than two weeks from Christmas, would be an inadequate description. A number of storefronts are closed. Those that are open have very few visible customers. There are vast swaths of the mall with virtually no foot-traffic for long stretches of time. Occasionally, a shopper or two descend from the otherwise empty escalators. The food court is roped off with chairs flipped on top of empty tables. Even the stools outside of Chipotle, which is still open, have small placards prohibiting use. But just on the other side of the ropes, two men sit on a bench, masks off, eating their burritos.

Granted, it’s a Tuesday, not Saturday, and it’s probably 2 p.m. But for anyone who’s shopped in the mall during the holidays in previous years, the contrast is sharp. Shopper Tammie Ray, said she popped in to pick up a gift for her son during her lunch hour. She’s been shopping in this mall for years. She said she’d tried to buy something from the same store she’s visiting today, on the past Saturday, but didn’t stay.

“The store I was going to, was at capacity and there was a line of about 15 people. I didn’t feel like waiting to get in, so I’m trying my luck again,” she said.

When asked if waiting in line made her uncomfortable because of the coronavirus, she said it didn’t. “Everybody I saw that day was wearing a mask,” she said. “Like today — I haven’t seen anybody not wearing one.” 

She laughed and added that maybe a few people could stand to pull their mask up over their noses, but said she was perfectly comfortable shopping.

So where is everybody?

Ayman runs a T-shirt kiosk near the center of the mall. He has long, wavy hair pulled up into a top-knot that’s dyed blue at the tips. He preferred not to give his last name, but said he didn’t mind chatting about his business. It’s his first year selling at Southwest Plaza, so it’s difficult for him to compare this holiday season to those past, but he said he’s asked around to some of the other vendors and they’ve confirmed it’s different.

“When I was working over the past month, I asked some of the customers about shopping - are they interested in shopping anymore? Do they like to go to the mall anymore? They told me no,” he said. “Because of Covid. A lot of people prefer to do it online and not go to the mall anymore.”

For his business that’s not good. He said he’s been trying to build up business online, but it’s been difficult. 

“It’s (web sales) not working as much as I hoped right now,” he said. “So, it’s rough.”

Ayman thinks there’s still a chance to salvage a bit of the seasonal sales he was hoping for.

“November was slow. The first few weeks of December were better. Starting from last Saturday, there was a huge difference. It was much better. It’s like everyone decided to shop at once.”

Both Southwest Plaza and Colorado Mills have more independent shops than other shopping centers in the metro area. 

Another vendor, who didn’t wish to give her name, and didn’t own her kiosk business, said it would be a blessing for business to pick up.

“Most of these businesses don’t have the kind of online sales the big corporate stores have,” she said.

The Jeffco Transcript reached out to representatives of Southwest Plaza and Simon, the company that owns Colorado Mills, for comment. Hayden Rome, Account Representative for Simon’s PR Firm, said they were not accommodating any media interviews at this time. 

Representatives from Southwest Plaza did not respond to the paper.

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