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CHRISTMAS SHOPPING downtown salt lake stores
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Downtown Salt Lake City stores hope shoppers come back for Christmas

FILE -- People do some last-minute Christmas shopping at City Creek Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017. Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Stores and restaurants in downtown Salt Lake City have had a rough couple of months and store owners are hoping Christmas will attract shoppers again.

COVID-19 forced many people to work from home and theatres and businesses closed, sometimes permanently. The virus has also scared away visitors and tourists. 

The violent protest on May 30th also did not help.  

Only about 25% of the downtown workforce actually goes to the office, while hotels are reporting only 30% capacity.

Now, The Downtown Alliance is hoping to attract shoppers and tourists back by launching a program called “Downtown Dollars”

Downtown Dollars

Alliance Executive Director Dee Brewer said Downtown Dollars is a digital gift card people can download onto their phones. 

Shoppers will get an extra $10 if they buy $50 worth of Downtown Dollars and an extra $25 if they buy $75. 

Brewer thinks it will help people rediscover the area.

“There are things that exist here that you can’t get anywhere else in the region,” Brewer said. “My hope is that families and individuals around the region will continue to spend their holiday shopping dollars downtown, and they typically do, and that they will enjoy downtown in a different way this year.” 

And then there are the Christmas lights. 

The Downtown Alliance has high hopes Salt Lake City’s traditional light displays will attract shoppers. 

“It’s really a magical tradition every year to see the lights downtown. We decorate the streets. Temple Square will be lit up, although access will be different,” Brewer said.  

They will also be adding some of their own. 

“We’re installing two art pieces at The Gallivan Center that are lit up and gorgeous, along with the Christmas trees,” Brewer said.  

He hopes the program and the enhanced light displays will bring in people from Nevada, Colorado, and surrounding areas back to downtown Salt Lake City.