SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — After enduring months of coronavirus shutdowns and looters taking advantage of unrest during the George Floyd protests, Union Square has had a rough 2020.

On Tuesday, there were some positive signs of life in San Francisco’s cornerstone retail district. A Christmas tree is already up and drawing foot traffic back the often busy bellweather of San Francisco’s downtown shopping area.

“Usually, you can find a spot after circling for five minutes, but today was crazy,” said shopper Amina Soulahi.

Owners of businesses big and small told KPIX 5 the return of shoppers to the area isn’t coming a moment too soon.

“We really need them to be in the Union Square. Not only our shop, but all of the shops welcome them, because we are all struggling together,” said Arindam Jha, owner of the ice cream shop Glazier.

The shop’s grand opening on Sutter Street was February 21st, just weeks before the city-ordered COVID-19 shutdown. The shop has since re-opened and in need of customers.

“It’s kind of make or break,” said Jha.

Some businesses are still boarded up to due to worries about post-election civil unrest, but the plywood is slowly coming down.

“It has been a challenging time for our retailers, to say the least,” said Karin Flood, executive director of the Union Square Business Improvement District. “Many have adapted. The stores are all open. There is curbside pickup, there is in store shopping,”

While the Christmas tree in the center of the square is up, though not officially lit, it is already beckoning shoppers and Instagrammers alike.

“I’m all for Christmas,” said Romani Trejo, who had come to Union Square from Sacramento.

“Got this at Macy’s! 40 percent off!” enthused San Francisco resident Frederick Davis.

“I wanna be out with the people. I don’t feel as much anxiety as I did before in the grocery store,” said shopper Fredericka Heard of Pinole.

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