L.A. Rain Storms Hurt Beach Stores, Help Malls

Southern California storms on the week of Jan 22 hurt business at fashion boutiques.

It hailed in Santa Monica on Jan 22. There were tornado-force winds in Long Beach a day earlier. By the time the week ended, storms dropped around 6 inches of rain in some parts of Los Angeles. It all added up to awful business for retailers running stand-alone boutiques and those selling fashion by the beach.

Some beachfront stores around the Southland reportedly closed for the week. Retailer Reneé Tenison said Varga, her boutique at 2808 Main St. in Santa Monica, closed early on Jan. 21 and 22 because customer traffic was estimated to be down by 50 percent. Boutique owner Gila Leibovitch closed her Laguna Beach stores two hours early since Monday. “No one wants to walk by the beach during a storm,” said the owner of three Laguna Beach stores; Melrose Place and The Vault Women and The Vault Men.

However, the bad weather benefited Tenison’s Varga boutiques located in malls. Tenison estimated customer traffic shot up 40 percent at her stores at the Westside Pavilion mall in Los Angeles and Hollywood Highland retail center in Hollywood.

“There are a lot of tourists on vacation,” she said of the Los Angeles scene in January. “If they have nowhere else to go, they’ll just go into a mall store.”

Retail traffic at the Beverly Center mall in Los Angeles was estimated to increase in the single digits to the double digits during the recent nasty weather, according to Susan Vance, the marketing director for the mall. The indoor luxury retail center typically experiences spikes of buyer traffic if it gets too cold or too hot outside.

Leibovitch said the bad weather did not bring increased business to her mall stores at the Beverly Center or The Commons at Calabasas in Calabasas, Calif. “There was not much shopping overall. People did not want to leave the house, period,” she said.