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Traffic beginning to increase

BY DONNAMY STEELE

Due to COVID-19, beaches and other popular vacation spots were closed during the spring break season.

Now that everything is slowly reopening, there is an influx of people who are ready to get out of their homes.

Memorial Day tends to be a busy time of year regardless of the recent stay-at-home order being lifted, but now the holiday weekend is making up for lost time. This results in more traffic and reasons for locals to be careful when traveling in the Andalusia and River Falls’ areas.

River Falls police chief Kyle Adams observed the holiday weekend and explained what it means for locals.

Adams expressed his concern for locals during the influx of traffic following beach reopening.

He insists that locals stay cautious and avoid busy areas, such as the intersection of 55 and 84, whenever possible.

“We are still having trouble with traffic,” Adams said. “We want to tell the locals to be cautious, especially around the intersection of 55 and 84. We are steadily working and issuing citations, but we can’t stop every U-turn.”

Adams compared the Memorial Day weekend traffic to that of the past few weeks, stating that the traffic has increased significantly.

“It is equivalent to the beginning of spring break,” Adams said. “The reopening of the beaches definitely impacted it.”

As spring breakers and Memorial Day Weekend travelers enjoy the beach, Andalusia and neighboring communities are being impacted. Local businesses are busier than usual and traffic build-up is evident. Fletchers Outdoors owner Anthony King described what this means for local businesses like Fletchers Outdoors.

He said business has been steadily increasing due to the recently lifted restrictions and the holiday weekend.

“We’ve certainly seen an increase [in business] from the last week in April and ticking up through May,” King said. “The past few weeks have been fairly well aligned. There has been a pretty good increase over the last several weeks.”

King believes that COVID-19 played a role in how busy Andalusia was over the weekend. He states that it influenced the increase in business and traffic significantly.

“Absolutely it did. People are going to the beach,” King said. “We’ve been seeing a lot of Tennessee and Kentucky tags at the store. They were nonexistent here four weeks ago, but now they are going on vacation.”

Due to the stay-at-home order that lasted for weeks in the U.S., people are beginning to venture out of their homes for vacation.

“It’s like an eight-year-old kid who has been in the backseat for the last 300 miles,” King said. “They can’t wait to get out and stretch their legs.”

As for how business has been, King explained that this time of year is usually busy for Fletchers Outdoors.

Due to this, the traffic of travelers is essential to keep businesses up and running efficiently. “Every business has a season,” King said.

King explained that Fletcher’s has seen a gradual increase in business over the last few weeks of the pandemic.

As each restriction is lifted for the state of Alabama, the business’s numbers rise. King reveals an example of this for his business, stating that they saw “another surge [of business] when restaurants opened.”

Although the recent pandemic has caused many suppliers to run low and prices to increase, King stays hopeful for Fletchers Outdoors and other local businesses.

“I think southern businesses will do better because the governor is starting to relax the stay-at-home order and open businesses back up,” King said. “We started seeing about a 5-8 percent increase in sales from one week to another as Andalusia and River Falls opened back up.”

He considers whether the increases will continue on in the coming weeks, and states that it “remains to be seen.”

The supply and demand for certain products has caused many businesses to raise their prices, as well as having limited stock available.

“I’ve been seeing shortages in supply chains, especially in meats and Coca-Cola products,” King said.

Products such as gasoline and ammunition are still readily available at Fletchers Outdoors.

“Gas is still consistent,” King said. “The locals still bought gas as usual, so there wasn’t a slow run with that.”

He added that Andalusia has a good supply of gas, which is helpful to local businesses like Fletcher’s during this time.

King explained that ammunition is a small issue at the time, but the store still has stock available.

“There was a huge run in March and April,” King said. “Ammunition was in high demand at the beginning of the pandemic. Manufacturers have set schedules for different calibers, which means it could take weeks or months to replenish the goods. We do have ammunition available. We have access to more than your regular mom and pop shop would. I can’t buy mass quantities, but we do have stock.”

King looks forward to the coming weeks and hopes to continue seeing an increase in sales at Fletchers Outdoors.

Fletchers Outdoors is located at 13759 Brooklyn Rd, Andalusia, AL 36421. They can be reached at (334) 582-1955.