Several Reston and Herndon’s local officials came together virtually yesterday (Monday) to discuss the possibilities of what the retail industry will look like after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce hosts “Metro Monday” on the last Monday of each month. This month Herndon’s Mayor Lisa Merkel, Fairfax County’s Director of Economic Initiatives Rebecca Moudry and other local business owners were present to talk about the future of retail in Reston and Herndon.
The possibilities of the future of retail include promoting more online ordering for food, creating new digital ways for businesses to interact with its customers, and merging more restaurant and retail places together.
Merkel believes “restaurants are becoming anchors for retail centers which promotes social engagements and draws in the office crowd during lunch hours.”
Although many local businesses received grants to help with its loss of income, Moudry said the coronavirus pandemic has particularly affected the retail system.
“RISE grants have been awarded. We mailed postcards to every single business for local and federal grant programs,” Moudry said. “Economic Recovery Framework was recently launched to confront the economic shifts. That is the current task at hand.”
Job access and workforce development are essential factors in the framework. Moudry said the framework will work with the local transit system to improve both.
“The Reston bus plan will significantly improve bus transit and people’s access to jobs, as well as more opportunities for retail and people to come in and out,” Moudry said.
Tony Stafford, owner of Ford’s Fish Shack, said many businesses have had to take steps they thought they would never do.
“A lot of businesses had to reinvent themselves. We’ve seen a loss of lunch business because people aren’t going to work,” Stafford said. “This time last year, our takeout business was 7 p ercent of our overall sales, this year its 43 percent. of our overall sales. People are now comfortable ordering their meals off computer screens.”
Omar Aru, the owner of Escape Room Herndon, said setbacks posed by the pandemic have been significant, despite grants from the federal government and local assistance.
“There used to be a 15-minute wait period between each visit, but now it’s a 30-minute to an hour wait period between each visit to allow more time for proper cleaning and for rooms to air out,” Aur. said. “This means that we’re getting fewer games in and less people because we’re taking longer to clean.”
Photo courtesy of Omar Aru