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More than a third of the stores at La Cumbre Plaza on upper State Street remain empty, as the pandemic has worsened the economic environment for retail stores. Of the forty-four stores in the main part of the shopping center, sixteen remain empty.
The worsening conditions for Santa Barbara’s largest mall (or is Paseo Nuevo bigger?) is not just a Santa Barbara problem, as shopping malls are struggling everywhere. The rise of e-commerce over the last two decades has cut into the revenue of almost every kind of retail business. The problem isn’t that people don’t buy in stores any more, it’s just that they buy less, and the stores have too much space and unaffordable rents for their new levels of business.