CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Police are working to build relationships with retail businesses heading into the holiday season.
The goal is to ensure a safer environment for shoppers citywide.
It's nearly that time of year and across Chicago's Magnificent Mile and State Street retail corridors businesses are doing their best to roll out the holiday cheer as they try to entice shoppers to come downtown and open up their wallets.
"The holiday period is when we expect to be knocking out of the park," said Kiana Distasi, with Chicago Loop Alliance.
As of last week, pedestrian traffic along State Street is within 25% of 2019 levels, according to the Chicago Loop Alliance.
However, because safety concerns continue to plague the Central Business District, as well as other retail corridors, the Chicago Police Department said they are increasing foot patrols and are using business liaison officers who will connect with businesses one-on-one during the holiday season.
"Citywide, we have resources at the appropriate places and appropriate times. And we are able to act, be proactive, in the beginning, but also be reactive and deploy our resources if we need to," said Cmdr Don Jerome, with the Chicago Police Department's 9th District.
Perhaps, unsurprisingly, the Loop and the Near North Side account for much of the city's retail theft with one in dour of these crimes taking place in those two neighborhoods over the last 12 months.
However, the total number is actually down from 2019 by about 35%, which is exactly what those looking to fill up all those empty storefronts and bring people downtown over the holidays want to hear as they now turn their focus to changing would-be visitors perceptions.
"The more people that are in these great spaces doing the right things, the less there is opportunity for people to be doing the negative things," Distasi said.
"I was kind of apprehensive about coming because of the crime rate that you see on TV," said Felicia Powell, who is visiting from North Carolina. "You be like scratching your head like, oh I don't know if I want to come, but it's actually really nice down here. Downtown is nice. I would come back again."