SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Talk about bad timing. Two weeks before Christmas and all through Union Square the storm knocked out power, hardly a shopper anywhere.
A bunch of stores had to close and at a critical time of year.
Power was restored, in Union Square, by 8:30 p.m. Thursday, but by then it was too late for a lot of stores to make up for their losses.
Seeing everything go dark looked as if the Christmas spirit got sucked right out of Union Square.
"I had planned to shop here until I came and saw that quite a few stores are black," shopper Christopher White said.
Macy's, Saks, and Tiffany's were all in the dark. Even the Christmas tree in the center of San Francisco's premiere retail shopping district was a towering shadow.
"In my experience, you make half of your yearly revenue in this last quarter. So if you do the math, that's a good chunk in one day," Julianne Faas, a retail office manager, said.
At 7:30 a.m. Thursday, PG&E says a flooded vault in the Financial District caused an explosion at the substation on Post and Stockton.
Christina Catavalos shot a video on her cellphone after she heard it blow. She said, "I looked and saw the manhole just go right up, and then the flames. So I ran right to the camera."
There were 85,000 customers that lost power in the Financial District, Union Square, the Richmond and the Marina districts. That included Pier 39 where restaurants had to put their food on ice. By noon, power was returned to most customers, but several stores had already called it quits.
"There's a lot of conventions in town, a lot of tourists, and a lot of potential dollars that they're missing out on," Swarovski store manager Nathan Ruiz said.
With power restored, retailers still have to contend with the coming storms that could drive more customers away.