WALNUT CREEK (KPIX) — Shoppers spent Sunday at retail destinations in downtown Walnut Creek on the final weekend before Christmas, making final purchases and bringing welcomed economic relief from the pandemic blues for small businesses.

“We mostly do rely on our holiday season,” said Sophia Quintana, the assistant manager at the Five Little Monkeys store on Main Street. “It’s the busiest time of the year.”

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Tri Commercial Real Estate Services, Inc. says the fourth quarter has been good for many retail stores in Walnut Creek as they see their sales up over the same time last year. But they are not back where they were for the holiday season in 2019.

“We couldn’t make up our mind so we wanted to come look and see and feel, you can only do so much online,” said Tim Goodwin, a holiday shopper who went to the Broadway Plaza mall. “We didn’t come here expecting deals. We didn’t come here expecting sales. We just came here to see what we could find.”

Customers did mention that safety at shopping centers still crossed their mind after a string of mob robberies around the Bay Area, including the Nordstrom’s in downtown Walnut Creek, during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

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Business leaders said that the increased police presence has helped to reassure shoppers for the rest of the holiday season. Some noticed that the barriers were still in place at Broadway Plaza mall to limit access to cars near retail stores.

“I did part of my shopping online and then sometimes you just want to be in store,” said Frank McPherson, another shopper at the Broadway Plaza.

Tri Commercial explained 2022 should be better even with ongoing challenges from the pandemic and inflation.

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“We’re not a big corporation, we really do rely on our community and so we’re very thankful for our community because we wouldn’t be here without them,” Quintana told KPIX 5.