COVID-19’s impact on the local retail industry: Smaller shops seem to be in better shape

Coronavirus

FAIRHOPE, Ala. (WKRG) — From what shoppers told News 5, smaller Baldwin County boutiques seem to be more stocked than big-name retailers.

“We did go to the outlets, and those stores didn’t have as much. It was almost like what they had when they closed is what they still had,” said Cindy Talbot, who’s in town from Illinois.

That fate — not having enough means or business to bring in new and timely products after shops were forced to close — was an initial fear for Kitty Ellison, the manager of Utopia. Especially given the cancellation of Arts and Crafts Fest, the biggest money-maker weekend for downtown Fairhope.

“The biggest weekend that we have all year is the Arts and Crafts Fest, so right before that we got all our new merchandise,” she said. But since those purchases were smaller scale because it’s a smaller shop, the items sold quickly enough.

Some bigger spots weren’t so lucky. J. Crew filed for bankruptcy amid the pandemic, and retail experts and economists think the coronavirus closures will take another hit at already-struggling department stores.

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