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NEW YORK — This should be the time of year for busy sidewalks and lines at the cash registers.

But stores cannot be packed with customers this year due to the pandemic and capacity restrictions. Owners are getting creative and many have already started the holiday campaigns.

Lexi Beach is the co-owner of The Astoria Bookshop on 31st Street in Queens.

“A lot of our customers have been shopping on-line with us since march,” Beach said. “We have just started browsing by appointment. Customers can book one household one at a time for 30 minutes,”

She says e-commerce and web purchases will be more important than ever. Make sure to shop local and shop early is becoming the new slogan.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an open storefronts program on Oct. 28. It’s similar to the open restaurants program which allows tables to be set up curbside and on the sidewalk.

Store owners can register for free with the city and set up an area in front of their storefront. 380 businesses have signed up as of the first week of November.