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By Mike Hazlip–
An overlooked side effect of COVID-19 school closures, teen spending, is taking a toll on some Citrus Heights businesses.
A banner announcing available space can be seen draped over the former location of K’s Quik Mart at Auburn Boulevard and Kanai Street, following the convenience store’s closure last month.
The former owner could not be reached, but a property management representative said a combination of personal and economic reasons led to the closure. The representative, who did not want to be identified because he was not authorized to speak for the convenience store’s owner, said the store relied on regular foot traffic from students who would come in after school for snacks.
Both Mesa Verde High School and Sylvan Middle School are located within several blocks of the former Quik Mart, but with campuses closed due to COVID-19, the small convenience store struggled to stay open. That, along with “personal reasons” ultimately led the owner to close down, according to the source.
Another local business that typically sees regular traffic during after school hours, Surf & Skate at Greenback Lane and Mariposa Avenue, has also experienced a decrease in customers from nearby San Juan High School. Manager Allyson Smith said the business would normally see five to 10 teens each day, but business has been quiet this school year as students participate in distance learning.
“The foot traffic is definitely not as much as it used to be because of COVID,” she said. “It’s not going to make or break us, I don’t think, because sometimes they just come in to look around.”
Smith said weekday customers from the high school typically look for scooter or skate board parts and other inexpensive items. Weekend business has remained steady, however.
The manager of the 7-Eleven store next door to the skate shop said he’s also seen a drop in foot traffic. But like Surf & Skate, he said the reduction in foot traffic has not equated to a similar drop in sales for the location.
An April 2019 report by CNBC shows teens nationwide spend about $2,600 annually on food and clothes. The data, taken from a survey by investment firm Piper Jaffray, estimates teen spending power at more than $75 billion.
To adapt to changing times amid COVID-19, some convenience store chains are pivoting toward touchless checkout and electronic shopping, as the steady stream of daily commuters dries up. An August report by the business news outlet Fast Company reveals plans to automate a 7-Eleven store in Tempe, Arizona. With more people working from home, convenience stores aren’t as convenient today as they once were, according to the report.
School-related foot traffic may begin to pick back up in Citrus Heights, beginning Jan. 5, when the San Juan Unified School District is planning to reopen schools for modified in-person learning. The district advised last week that those plans could change, however, depending on whether the county can pull out of the most severe “purple” tier of COVID-19 case rates and associated restrictions.
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