Mall Reconnaissance

Mall Santa, Barton Creek Square - Austin, Texas

Mall Santa, Barton Creek Square – Austin, Texas

I tagged along with my wife, who was doing an in-store pickup at the mall. It’s the first time I visited an indoor mall all year, and I was curious to see how crowded it might be just days before Christmas. I’ve seen YouTube videos of very sparse malls in other parts of the country. Luckily for Austin, Barton Creek Square was busier than I expected. Not packed. But, a steady stream of customers moved in and out of stores.

Even before the pandemic, I rarely visit indoor shopping malls. I prefer the outdoor lifestyle centers like The Domain that gives a more city-like feel. The interior was only modestly decorated for the holidays. And this area near Santa was the only place that looked truly festive. The food court was more crowded than expected. Too crowded, in my opinion, with very few face coverings.

I walked most of the mall and noticed several unused storefronts, but most stores had some engagement. The Lego and Apple stores had a line. So did Williams-Sonoma, though I saw they were shutting down for good with discounts up to 75% off. I was surprised since the one up north also shuttered earlier this year. A store employee said only one in Austin will remain open. I know cooking is popular during the COVID-age. But, perhaps Williams-Sonoma’s is too upscale for people’s needs these days.

When I moved to Austin in the early 90s, a recession seems to hit the area harder. I visited the same mall, and it was completely dead days before Christmas. I felt relieved that it was more lively now than it was nearly 30 years ago.

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