Business owners notice fewer customers as Delta Variant rises

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, FLA. (WMBB) — As the Delta variant of COVID-19 rises throughout the Panhandle, some businesses are feeling the financial burden of fewer customers. 

“We see around 20 customers a day and I can definitely cut that in half to what I’m seeing right now,” Morgan Nelson, owner of Your CBD Store said. “Even today it was a gorgeous day at first and I didn’t see the first person until almost one o’clock. And that’s very rare, normally I have people waiting at my door when I’m opening.”

Over the past couple of weeks, the Delta variant has rapidly spread throughout Bay County. From Aug. 13 – Aug. 19, 1,064 people tested positive for COVID-19 in the county. The positivity rate last week was over 26%.

That has led to thousands of dollars in lost revenue for Nelson. But some tourists are unperturbed by the rise in COVID-19 cases.

“If I was concerned about it or if anybody’s concerned about it they don’t have to live here in Florida,” Dean Kirkham, a tourist from Indiana said. “They can move, they don’t have to visit Florida, they can go somewhere else.”

While Nelson has noticed fewer customers entering her store, other business owners have not noticed a difference in business.

“We really haven’t noticed the impact to the business,” Monique Williams, owner of Roasters Edge Coffee said. “We’ve noticed when the kids went back to school, business slowed down a little bit. But we’ve had an awesome summer.” 

But for Nelson, the slowdown in business comes at one of her busiest times of the year. Her peak season is throughout the summer, Nelson said. But a rise in the variant has stymied her most profitable season.

“When you’re expecting the higher numbers until at least Labor Day before they start dwindling, that does put a scare in you,” Nelson said.

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