Business News

1 of 7 stores may not survive COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian business group says

TORONTO —
A Canadian business group has serious concerns after a new survey found that Canadian shoppers plan to spend 66 per cent of their holiday shopping budget at big box stores and through online giants like Amazon.

For small business owners that’s worrisome.

“We see the Amazon boxes and we see the big box store boxes in the delivery truck all the time so we know that people are shopping this way,” Linda Prangley, the owner of Love Me Do Baby & Maternity in Toronto, said.

Prangley said her store had to pivot to focus on more online shopping and home deliveries during the pandemic.

She feels fortunate that her sales have remain steady, but she is worried about the upcoming holiday shopping season.

“We need to support local businesses or they just won’t be here tomorrow,” Laura Jones, the executive vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), said.

Many larger retailers like Costco and Walmart were allowed to stay open and operate throughout the COVID-19 pandemic while smaller stores were forced to close their doors.

Some small retailers were also not prepared for the shift to online shopping.

The survey found only 38 per cent of independent retailers report their sales are back to normal compared to before the pandemic.

The survey also found that one out of seven stores is in danger of closing permanently due to pandemic.

Some retailers are hanging on hoping for a prosperous holiday sales period and CFIB said without support some may not be around in the new year.

“Certainly we are still in the middle of things being tough with these pandemic conditions and the holiday season is make or break for a lot of businesses,” Jones said.

“Buying at your local business means supporting local jobs and soccer teams, and keeping your spending local helps you support your local community.”

Storeowners like Prangley say before shopping online with a big box retailer consumers should check to see if what they want is offered through a local retailer.

“We are doing everything we can to be part of the community, to look out for our customers so that they can get the products that they deserve,” Prangley said.

CFIB also announced a big thank you contest encouraging consumers to use and thank local businesses. Those who take part can win prizes and cash.