SAN YSIDRO, Calif. (Border Report) — During recent visits to Carolin Shoes along San Ysidro Boulevard, manager Olivia Campos always had plenty of time to sit down and discuss the pandemic-related financial woes at her store and others in the area.

But as Border Report checked in Friday morning, Campos found herself running back and forth in the store helping customers.

Olivia Campos manages Carolin Shoes in San Ysidro, Calif. (Salvador Rivera/Border Report)

Gladly, our interview would have to wait, and it would have to be quick.

… Finally, she stopped and turned her attention to this reporter.

“We better do it now because I won’t have time to stop and talk later,” she said.

Since Nov. 8, when essential travel restrictions were lifted to those who are vaccinated for COVID-19, merchants just north of the San Ysidro Port of Entry had been eagerly anticipating the return of shoppers from Mexico.

As it turned out, the wait was longer than anyone could’ve thought.

“I was expecting a lot more people,” Campos said.

She admitted that after a few dismal weeks, there is room now for optimism.

“Slowly, slowly I see it getting a little bit better. Last Saturday everything started to pick up,” she said.

According to Campos, her store saw a surge in customers two Saturdays ago and it’s been steady ever since.

“Hopefully, it keeps going the same way,” she said.

And with one more full weekend of shopping before Christmas, she is hoping to finish the holiday season and start the new year on a strong note.

“I hope we can see more, to be honest with you, I really hope so.”

Campos told Border Report it looks like things are getting back to normal; she said most of her neighboring businesses were also doing better.

“It’s good, I just hope they don’t close the border again,” she said.

On the west side of the San Ysidro Port of Entry, where there is a large outlet mall, two workers at a shoe store and one at a suitcase discounter said they were seeing a lot more people from Mexico and that their sales were “way up.”

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, and essential travel restrictions were put in place, more than 200 businesses in San Ysidro closed their doors permanently due to the lack of customers from Mexico.

The area, according to its chamber of commerce, also sustained more than $1.3 billion in losses.