- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 16, 2002

The threat of more sniper shootings is affecting businesses around the Washington area. Some have had fewer customers, while others have increased security and taken additional precautions to ensure safety.
The Home Depot in the Seven Corners area near Falls Church the site of the 11th shooting reopened at 2:30 p.m. yesterday. By late afternoon shoppers had returned to the store, with store managers and employees on high alert.
“We’re trying to get things as close to normal as possible,” said John Simley, a Home Depot spokesman.
Area residents have been on edge since Oct. 2, when a sniper began a spree that has left nine dead and two wounded. Most of the shootings have occurred at shopping centers and gas stations all close to main roads. Four of the rifle shots have been at or within a mile of a Michaels craft store, including an incident in which nobody was injured.
“Business is off,” especially in Montgomery County, where a bulk of the shootings took place, said Thomas Saquella, president of the Maryland Retailers Association.
Consumers who don’t need to go shopping aren’t, he added.
Sales at Giant Food have remained constant, but officials say customers are buying more prepared foods and larger quantities.
“That tells us citizens are staying home instead of going out to restaurants,” said Barry F. Scher, spokesman for the Landover grocery store chain.
Sales at Peapod by Giant, the chain’s online delivery service, have been up “a nice amount” in the past two weeks, said Mr. Scher, who would not disclose specific percentage increases.
Mr. Scher said that the company has increased security at its stores, but he declined to discuss details.
Sales at area Starbucks have not dipped.
“It’s similar to after September 11 our customers kept coming in,” said Shannon Jones, regional marketing manager at Starbucks, which has 160 locations in the Washington area. “They are looking for that normalcy.”
After the shootings began, Starbucks pulled outdoor patio seating at approximately 50 of its stores as a precaution, she said.
Businesses are telling employees to be careful and cautious, but keeping them more alert is easier said than done, Mr. Saquella said.
“Their job is to take care of the customer,” he said.
“It’s hard for them to look over their shoulder for people in a parking lot.”

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