‘State of Downtown’ report gives glimpse of how Austin businesses struggled during pandemic


AUSTIN (KXAN) — COVID-19 vaccinations are giving hope to Austin-area businesses as many are still struggling due to the pandemic.

The Downtown Austin Alliance will release its full “State of Downtown” report at 11 a.m. Wednesday with a full “roadmap to recovery,” but some businesses are already seeing the light at the end of the darkest tunnel they’ve ever been in.

Teghan Hahn works at Toy Joy and Yummi Joy downtown, and she’s seen a slight rise in foot traffic in the stores. She believes the welcomed change is thanks in part to a combination of things including increased vaccinations, warmer temperatures, ongoing mask requirements and using outdoor space. Hahn said the move outdoors helps make people feel more comfortable shopping during the pandemic and helps draw in new customers.

“We want to continue doing monthly outdoor markets or sidewalk sales,” Hahn said.

The Downtown Austin Alliance says that’s a great idea, and it’s part of their advice to businesses in the report they’ll release today.

Alliance CEO Dewitt Peart knows the recovery is going to be a gradual one, but utilizing outdoor spaces around businesses is certainly a best practice moving forward and, “making it welcoming for people to come back downtown.”

Hahn said her family has lost more than $2 million across six businesses during the pandemic, including the toy and candy stores. They relaunched a website and partnered with a delivery service in hopes to recuperate sales that way, and they’re always trying to figure out innovative and new ways to reach customers.

Currently, Hahn said the stores are operating at about 60% of pre-pandemic volumes, but she’s hopeful things will pick up because, well, people love toys and candy.

“Sugar and toys … what’s a better mood lifter?” she said.

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