Owners happy with foot traffic during holiday weekend
The three-day weekend brought California day-trippers to downtown Santa Barbara, ready to hit State Street’s shops.
Owners were excited at the foot traffic and hopeful that it’s a sign of the end of the pandemic’s economic lull.
“The community feels they can get out safely now. With all the safeguards and protocols already practiced for so long, this was the weekend — almost on the cusp of spring — that they felt was the time to get out and enjoy,” Alan Howard, owner of Antique Alley, told the News-Press Monday.
His store, located at 706 State St. in downtown Santa Barbara, had a steady flow of customers on Presidents’ Day and a small line forming at the cash registers.
January was a slow month as rains dampened weekend business. Mr. Howard also attributes the insurrection at the Capitol to the lower consumer enthusiasm.
“I think there’s optimism in the United States, or at least in California, with the new administration, the declining levels of COVID. And people were able to get shots to vulnerable people,” he said.
He noticed Californians north of Santa Barbara all the way down to San Diego coming through the store.
“Being situated right between San Francisco and Los Angeles, two urban centers of California, we’re getting a really strong surge of tourism here,” he said.
Other businesses had an influx of day-trippers as well.
“I would say this is probably the busiest weekend we’ve seen in a while, especially since we usually would be around the holidays. But since we were in a worst tier, this was the first time we had a lot of out-of-towners,” said Stella Trapin, manager of The Closet Trading Company.
“State Street was just super busy even with people in town, people just kind of milling around,” she said, estimating that almost half of the weekend’s customers were local.
“January and February are usually our slower months right after the holidays. It kind of takes a dive. But this year, we were pretty successful.”
Sam Guzmán, owner of Stabiles Boutique at 527 State St., said business always picks up in the middle of February.
He is glad this year is no different.
“Last year, we were waiting for this exact moment to come out of hibernation,” Mr. Guzmán said.
He said he felt like Stabiles was one of few businesses on the block open during the lockdown. But now that the restaurants surrounding the store are open, he sees more foot traffic.
“A lot of communities are trying to limit their travel, but there are some people that I think might have been vaccinated, and now they feel a little bit more confident with going out,” Mr. Guzmán said.
Regardless of the reasons consumers went shopping this weekend, business owners were glad to welcome them.