As the Southern California fires continue to rage and move south, retailers are grappling with the negative impact on their business during the critical holiday shopping season. But storeowners of all stripes said their first priority is the safety of their family, friends and employees.
Raegan Gall, VP of media relations for Macy’s Inc., said the department store giant is closely monitoring the situation. “Thanks to the many employees who have volunteered to cover shifts for those impacted, our Macy’s locations in Ventura, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Valencia, Northridge and Topanga are continuing to operate and will maintain normal business hours as long as they are not in a mandatory evacuation zone,” she said. “We welcome anyone who needs a place to regroup to our stores. Our thoughts are with our associates, our customers and our community during this difficult time.”
Nordstrom spokeswoman Emily Sterken said the retailer had several employees who had been evacuated from their homes. Others are on standby. “We’re working closely with them to ensure they have everything they need,” Sterken said. “We’ll continue to keep a close eye on the situation over the coming days.”
David Assil, owner of Madison, was evacuated on Wednesday from his home in Brentwood. That day he closed both of his stores, in Beverly Hills and Brentwood, but reopened them on Thursday. “I’m not anticipating much business over the weekend or next week,” said Assil, who noted that air quality issues persist. “This is just another negative [development] in a year of negativity.”
“Understandably, many who live in Southern California are focused on the well being of family and friends,” said Isack Fadlon, owner of Sportie LA. “Shopping might not be the highest priority this weekend.”
There’s no doubt that California residents and retailers will face more uncertainty in the weeks ahead. Two Ten is ready to come to the aid of anyone in need, according to its president, Neal Newman.
“This has been an extraordinary year for fires, hurricanes and floods. We’ve set aside $1.95 million for emergency assistance this year and my hunch is we’ll far exceed that by the end of our fiscal year,” Newman said. “Recovering from the devastation of wildfires or any other natural disaster takes time and money. Two Ten provides both — with trained supportive social services staff and our ability to respond quickly with financial assistance. Anyone who needs help just needs to contact us on our website, Twoten.org, and we’ll get in touch within 48 hours.”
—With contributions from Veronika Bondarenko