HIGH POINT — California’s Regional Stay Home Order, signed Dec. 6, has put more than half of California’s residents back under a stricter supplemental stay-at-home order and is giving home furnishings retailers a new concern about in-store traffic.
Currently, three out of five of the state’s regions are being impacted by this new, stricter blue-tier order. As part of the order, private gatherings and close sector operations except for “critical infrastructure and retail” are to remain closed. It also requires mask wearing for all and physical distancing in any and all public spaces.
Fortunately for many of home furnishings retailers, even the strictest tier allows stores to keep their doors open at 20%, but some are still concerned about the overarching impact this new, stricter move could have.
“As a furniture store, we are very fortunate that our showroom is so large,” said Bobby Watson, co-owner of Hoot Judkins Furniture in Redwood City, Calif. “We occupy 60,000 square feet, so we are limited to 200 people in the store, but in reality I have a staff of 15 if everyone is here, and we really only have two to 20 customers here at a time anyway.”
That fact has not stopped the move from hurting sales, which Watson said have softened since stricter stay-at-home enforcements have gone into place. And experts agree; industry analysts argue that retail sales in many sectors across the state in general would dip in response to this move as many consumers opt not to risk the new rules or to learn which stores are still open.
“I’m all in favor of mask wearing and social distancing, but I believe our elected officials have taken way too harsh of actions,” Watson continued. “Many businesses are shut down completely. Indoor dining is banned. Gyms, barber shops, nail salons, churches and many other businesses have been forced to shut down.”
Watson and many others have also pointed out some of the discrepancies in the order’s impact.
In a now-viral video, restaurant owner Angela Marsden, of Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based Pineapple Hill Saloon and Grill, can be seen crying while she is filming television production tents, tables and food service in a parking lot just a few feet from the outdoor dining area she is not allowed to use to serve customers under the new order.
Marsden said she spent thousands setting up the new outdoor area to meet Los Angeles County’s dining requirements before this latest stay-at-home order, and she is upset by the perceived hypocrisy of the order shutting down her restaurant but not food service at a television shoot.
“Everything I own is being taken away from me, and they set up a movie company right next to my outdoor patio,” said Marsden in the video. “They have not given us money, and they have shut us down. We cannot survive. My staff cannot survive.”
While furniture retailers are not dealing with equally severe constraints at the moment, members of the industry are concerned about the implications of the order both for California and for other states in the U.S.
In Home Furnishings Assn. CEO Mark Schumacher’s regulatory update presentation during Furniture Today’s 2020 Leadership Conference, he warned of the potential for some COVID-19 precautions to spread after being reintroduced in one place.
“As an industry we need to be on guard for anything happening at the state level that could have a ripple effect on the industry,” Schumacher noted while speaking about COVID-19 regulations and product safety regulations.
About the California Stay Home order
An expansion on California’s four-tier, color-coded classification system for reopening the state and tracking coronavirus case numbers, the Regional Stay Home Order adds a new, overarching tier for regions that have less than 15% ICU availability.
Once the minimum number of ICU space available has been reached, the new order’s rules go in place the next day at 11:59 p.m. and must remain in effect for at least three weeks. Following that period, the “blue” order will be lifted when a region’s projected ICU capacity meets or exceeds 15%, which will be assessed on a weekly basis after the initial period.
After that, the region will still fall under the state’s four-tier reopening system: purple for widespread case numbers, red for substantial case numbers, orange for moderate numbers and yellow for minimal case numbers.