Texas is the largest US state to allow a substantial number of retailers and other businesses to reopen for the first time on Friday, even as many of the state’s Democratic big-city mayors urged residents and business owners to ignore the governor’s advice.
To try and get a sense of how the beating heart of Texas retail – the Barton Creek Square in Austin – was faring during its first day back in business, the dogged reporters at the Texas Tribune ventured out to the capital city’s biggest mall to commiserate with shoppers bold enough to risk infection over a pair of sneakers, as the TT piece put it.
What the reporters found was hardly surprising: stores barely managing to meet the 25% max-capacity threshold set by the governor, a threshold at which most businesses simply cannot operate profitably. As a result, only a handful of Barton Creek’s smaller stores were open; all of the mall’s anchor tenants – department stores that have been particularly hard hit by the downturn – remained closed.
By the time the mall opened at 11am local time yesterday, lines of shoppers had formed, with everyone standing six feet apart, and lines forming outside stores allowing only a handful of shoppers to enter at a time.
Most of the patrons were there to shop, it seemed – little things mostly; shoes, swimsuits etc. At least one told the TT that she was just out to get some exercise. They ranged from young couples to older singletons.