Days before Christmas, SoCal business owners and customers feel optimism with in-person shopping

For some, the season typically full of generosity means supporting those who have had to give way for all kinds of pandemic-induced adaptations.

"I see so many shops closing down, and I feel really bad," said Sam Kim while shopping in Old Town Pasadena on Tuesday. "So I said, OK, it's nice to come out and buy in-person."

The National Retail Federation predicts Americans will end up spending a record amount of money this holiday season, growing anywhere from 8.5 to 10.5% over 2020. The question is, where will people spend their money?

"I was hoping it would be a little bit better," said April Hicks, who owns April Blooms Boutique in Pasadena. "I think there are still a lot of people who are not coming out because they don't want to be exposed."

Hicks relies on foot traffic, but it has been inconsistent throughout the pandemic.

Her most loyal customers met her where she was through various phases of the pandemic, whether online or curbside.

"They were still shopping," said Hicks. "Maybe not as frequently because everybody was (thinking), 'I'm not going anywhere, I'm sitting around in my loungewear.'"

In 2020, she started carrying more loungewear in her store.

With 2021 came new challenges, adapting for the supply chain, the labor shortage and the pandemic that just won't end. 2022 will be her fifth year in business, and with it comes a little optimism.

"The first three years, from what I understand, don't count. The fifth year is supposed to be the year," said Hicks. "So I'm hoping this is going to be my year."

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