M.Fredric store in Malibu, Calif. Picture: M.Fredric
As of Wednesday, January 13, 2021
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spike in Los Angeles County, contemporary chain M.Fredric announced Jan. 12 that it would temporarily close its eight physical stores until the retailer’s owners deem it safe to reopen. The announcement was made on the Los Angeles-area retailer’s website, its social-media channels and through an email blast. The digital commerce store mfredric.com will continue business.
M.Fredric co-founder Fred Levine said that he made the decision to close his physical stores because the new strains of COVID-19 are more dangerous, and because Los Angeles County’s hospital capacity is low. By keeping his physical stores open, he felt that he was putting his staff and his customers at risk.
“I expect to see more non-essential businesses take a temporary suspension for the sake of health and safety of community,” Levine said. “I recognize the financial burden on non-essential business already reeling from the pandemic. I feel the financial pain myself. But I feel the health and safety of my people outweighs any financial hit, no matter the financial consequences. Yes it hurts, but it’s better than the pain of loss of life due to this surge and the scarcity of hospital beds.”
The 41-year-old contemporary casual retailer relies on its physical stores, Levine said. E-commerce remains a small part of the retailer’s business. Since Summer 2020, it has kept physical stores open, which has added financial burdens. Extra staff was hired to enforce limits on people entering stores, as well as making deep cleanses of fitting rooms. Levine said that these measures were costly, but crucial precautions.
M.Fredric is one of a few bricks-and-mortar businesses that have voluntarily gone on hiatus. Levine said that he had no prediction on when he would open physical stores, but he hoped that it would be weeks rather than months.
In a January 11 press release, the Los Angeles County Health Department urged county residents to take extra precautions. “Now is not the time to meet with your friends at home to watch the game. It is not the time to go for a walk without a mask. All it takes is one mistake and soon, five, 10 or 20 other people become infected,” said Barbara Ferrer, the director of the county's public health department.
However, the county health department has not changed its guidance on shopping at physical stores. These businesses are allowed to remain open, albeit bricks-and-mortar stores are required to limit the number of people on their sites to 20 percent of a store’s typical capacity.
On Jan. 19, the L.A. County public health department will host a COVID-19 Vaccine Town Hall, which will provide some details on a vaccination program which will be rolled out soon. For more information, visit www.publichealth.lacounty.gov.