Boylston Street Retail Bears Brunt of Coronavirus

While many retail stores on Boylston Street near the Boston Marathon finish line have typically come to expect to do peak business in the weeks leading up to and during the event, growing fears over the coronavirus, which has resulted in postponing the footrace, as well as putting strict limits on other public gatherings, has seemingly ground commerce in the area to a halt.

“I know from working here that the Marathon draws people in,” said Brandon Wells, an employee at GameStop, a chain of retail stores specializing in video games with a Back Bay location at 647 Boylston St., who hasn’t worked there during the footrace. “People are here celebrating, and maybe a family will come to watch Mommy cross the finish line, and Daddy buys the kids a video game because there here. But instead it’ll be just like an ordinary day, and you don’t want every day to be just an ordinary day.”

On Monday afternoon, many area businesses, including the Apple Store at 815 Boylston St.; Crate and Barrel at 777 Boylston St.; Free People, a women’s clothing store at 899 Boylston St.; and the New Balance store at 583 Boylston St., were temporarily shuttered on account of the coronavirus.

While Marathon Sports and the Adidas store, located at 671 and 855 Boylston St., respectively, were both open, employees at both businesses referred requests for interviews to corporate. (A representative from Marathon Sports did return this reporter’s email Tuesday afternoon and offered to facilitate an interview with staff from the Boylston Store after deadline for this week’s edition of the Sun).

At Frette at 776B Boylston St., Kate Downey, a sales specialist, said while the store that sells high-end bedding traditionally doesn’t see a high volume of business on the day of the Marathon itself, she said fallout from the coronavirus could potentially hurt sales during what is usually one of their busies times – graduation season.

Nancy Ong, a salesperson at the Lindt Chocolate Shop in the Lenox Hotel, who worked during last year’s Marathon, said the footrace also doesn’t typically result in a boon in their business, but the coronavirus is already adversely impacting their sales during  one of  their most profitable times – the weeks leading up to Easter.

“During this time, we usually do a really good business, but not now,” Ong said. “[Ordinarily], I wouldn’t even have time to talk to people.”

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