CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The holiday season is here, which means people will be shopping at local malls to buy gifts.
La Palmera Mall has COVID-19 protocols in place, like requiring masks for all patrons. Additionally, stores have other requirements based off their specific corporation. However, during peak hours at the mall, crowding can occur, making it more difficult for patrons to observe social distancing rules.
“I actually did come to the mall over the weekend. It was pretty crowded, so I didn't do a lot of shopping, I just kind of turned around and left,” said Megan Paz, who instead returned Monday morning to shop when there were fewer people.
Paz said the stores were limiting the number of people allowed in at once over the weekend, but with limited space in the mall, it was hard for people to sufficiently spread out while shopping.
Avoiding crowds while shopping is perhaps more important in 2020 than it has been in years past, and more people tried to do so Monday at La Palmera.
“I came so I could beat the crowds, there's more space between people, I know the lines will not be as long, and I can get it in and out quicker,” said Traci Mason, who planned her shopping schedule to avoid crowds.
"I feel safe, there's no crowds right now, right now is the best time to come. I like it because there's nobody here and there's nobody in line,” said Melissa Salinas.
"I kind of planned to not come when they're so busy,” said Chris Esparza. “It’s kind of a concern, you don’t want everyone crowded up in one small shopping area, because that’s how germs get spread, and that’s how bad things happen.”
Despite the concern of crowds during COVID-19, shoppers at La Palmera believe the mall is doing a good job keeping shoppers safe.
"They're really keeping their spaces in the lines, not allowing too many customers in the stores at the same time, they're doing great,” Mason said.
"I understand it's hard for social distancing with groups of families coming in, but I think with the mask order, everything is going pretty smoothly,” Esparza said.
This year, many people could do their holiday shopping online as well.
“I have done more of my shopping online this year. In store I really just come for certain sales or to exchange something,” Paz said.
"I try to do most of my shopping online. There are some things you have to come into the store for, trying to come when there's less of a crowd is a much better plan,” Mason said.
Annette Rodriguez, with the Corpus Christi-Nueces County Public Health District, recommends doing as much shopping online this year as possible, and for in-person shopping, to conduct it at off-peak hours.