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Some Small Businesses On Central, South Coasts Reporting Lower Holiday Sales, With COVID-19 To Blame

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Marilyn Barash says sales have been off by about 75% at her Thousand Oaks clothing boutique. She thinks COVID-19 is responsible, with some people doing online shopping and others afraid to come out in person.

This is normally one of the busiest months of the year for retailers on the Central and South Coasts, because of the holidays.

Some small, locally owned stores report they are struggling during what should be their best month of the year.  They say they are being hurt by increased online shopping, as well as the reluctance of some people to go shopping because of COVID-19.

Marilyn Barash is helping a customer at her Thousand Oaks women’s clothing boutique.

It’s the Saturday night before Christmas, and business is slow, painfully slow this holiday season for this locally owned store just off of Thousand Oaks Boulevard, in Skyline Plaza.  She says business is down by 75%.

The seven-year-old shop is about as mom and pop as you can get.  It’s about the size of a Starbucks.  It’s crammed with clothing racks, and on the walls there are jewelry displays and dozens of wigs.

It’s sort of a one woman show, with Barash serving customers five days a week, and a part time worker covering a sixth day.  Barash admits she’s in the same boat as many locally owned restaurants and retailers.  The pandemic has turned it into a tough year.  She was closed for six weeks during the first wave of of the virus. 

She says she was able to get a $13,000 government loan, and a break from her landlord which kept her in business.  Unlike the stay-at-home order earlier this year, she’s able to stay open with limited capacity.  But, she says many of her regular customers are too frightened to venture out to shop.

Barash says there’s also the impacts of more people shopping online.  And, some of her customers have been working from home, which reduces their need for the new clothes.

Like many small business owners on the Central and South Coasts, Barash is happy to see the customers she’s getting, but also hoping for a last-minute push by holiday shoppers.  She, like many business owners, are saying that 2020 is a writeoff, and they are hoping for a much better 2021.