Famous shopping districts like Champs-Elysees are bracing for a rough holiday season. The Covid-19 pandemic is flaring up in many parts of the world, so people are not visiting stores, and tourists usually expected at this time of year cannot travel there.
However, stores are still coming up with showy Christmas displays to try to salvage the crucial year-end shopping season. Here’s a look at shopping districts in cities from London to Tokyo to New York.
Few retailers have been hit as hard by the pandemic and protests as Hong Kong shop owners. A walk in Causeway Bay shows the fallout of retail sales declining for nearly 20 straight months. Brands like Prada are among the closed storefronts.
Causeway Bay stores are decorated for the season, with hopes of earnings to come from tourists like from Singapore. But the travel bubble with the Republic was put on hold as Hong Kong Covid-19 case numbers rose.
The streets of Ginza would usually be covered in decorations at this time of the year. But many stores are looking more low key. Japan still has strict controls on allowing tourists into the country.
The Ginza Street Association is planning a hand-washing event, store coupon giveaway and more illumination along the streets, hoping to draw more people.
The Champs-Elysees has faced upheaval for years, including those from terror attacks, strikes, riots after soccer matches, and violence during the “yellow vest” protests.
The spread of the virus has led to another lockdown, forcing stores to shut in October. “It will be extremely serious,” said the Comite Champs-Elysees, which represents the 100 or so stores in the area, on if shops cannot reopen in December.
The upmarket shopping district has been hit hard due to its reliance on foreign shoppers and the lack of office workers. Then Covid-19 restrictions shuttered locations in November.
But shops are not waiting for the reopening in December to get ready for the holiday season: Christmas lights are going up earlier than usual.
Stores in Fifth Avenue are bracing themselves for muted holiday spending, with few tourists in sight. Its numbers have dwindled in recent years, like when Henri Bendel closed. Some were ransacked amid George Floyd protests.
But this shopping district is still home to two of the glitziest department stores in the world: Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman, which are putting up extravagant holiday window displays.
This year’s light-up at Singapore’s premier shopping district is a quieter affair as street activities get scaled back to minimise crowds and safeguard the health of shoppers.
Orchard Road is still a fairyland of lights as the light-up aims to lift spirits even as Singapore residents are mostly unable to travel during the year-end holidays.
PRODUCED BY: DENISE CHONG