Pier Park store workers speak out on how business is going amid COVID-19

Published: Jan. 22, 2021 at 9:09 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Pier Park in Panama City Beach is a popular shopping place for both tourists and locals, but just like everything else it’s been affected by the pandemic.

“People of course want to get out and shop, they had been locked up from quarantine, but it got really slow. Even during the seasons when we’re supposed to be pretty busy,” Francesca’s Boutique Assistant Manager Adrien Baughn said.

Baughn said they closed at the beginning of the pandemic, but were really busy when they reopened in the summer. Now, Francesca’s is one of the stores falling victim to slow traffic and is closing its doors.

“And then putting up the closing signs, we figured we’d get more traffic and with the good sales that we’re having, but it’s been pretty much the same traffic. So not any better really,” said Baughn.

Baughn said she has no idea if the reason her store is closing correlates with why other stores here are closing. She adds whether it’s because of COVID-19 or Pier Park management, she knows there are nationwide closings for the boutique.

Pier Park Manager Chris Tilley tells us just like everyone else, they’re going to continue to fight through the national store closures and they’re very happy with how business is currently going. Tilley adds he is very optimistic with leasing activity and they’re in the works of making aggressive deals. Shimmering Seas Employee Kennedy Amundson said there’s been a slight decrease in business for them as well, but not as bad when compared to other stores.

“Coronavirus has affected it, but not as bad as we thought it would. We’re still getting pretty good business,” said Amundson.

Amundson said they expect a slight increase in traffic in the coming months, especially with the Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day holidays. She adds they’re just lucky to live in a state that allows businesses like theirs to stay open during the pandemic.

“And actually have the ability for people to come in and shop with us and we really appreciate everyone who comes in and shops in our store,” said Amundson.

While things might be coming to a close for some stores, other owners would say things are finally starting to look up.

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