Shop local, consciously this holiday season, business group urges as small retailers struggle

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – There are concerns the holiday shopping season will deepen the divide between large retailers and small, independent businesses.

Big companies, like Amazon, have seen a surge in revenues during the COVID-19 pandemic as people were forced to stay home, and many stores shuttered — temporarily or permanently.

And with new numbers suggesting people plan to spend more than two thirds of their holiday budgets at large retailers and online, the need for people to shop consciously is greater now more than ever, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

“Small firms can play a really important role and they’re trying to encourage consumers to dedicate at least a chunk of their holiday spending to support small, local businesses,” Dan Kelly, CFIB president, says. “And if we all do that, these businesses have a better chance at surviving the huge impact of the pandemic.”

The CFIB warns small firms could fall further behind over the next few months. It’s estimated that one-in-seven small retailers is at risk of closing before the end of the pandemic.

Those that are still open also have a number of concerns in the short-term.

“Many of them deeply worry about what’s going to happen as we approach the holiday season. Are they going to be able to bring back their customers, especially with fears of a second wave causing consumers to question whether they go out,” Kelly says.

Supporting small, local businesses also comes with benefits for the broader community, he notes.

“In most cases, those small businesses are the ones that are contributing back to local community groups and organizations. Kids’ sports teams, local hospital fundraisers. When you try to go and get money raised from Amazon, you’re probably going to hit a brick wall,” Kelly explains.

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So, while it may be easier to get everything you need with just a few clicks, the CFIB is asking you to consider dedicating part of your spending for the holidays to your local shops.

“Fewer Canadians are looking to spend their money — only a third are looking to spend their money — at small business. And that’s either at a small retailer online or in person,” Kelly says, adding shopping at your local shops may also ease some of your concerns.

“For consumers that are worried about the effect of COVID, our view is that small businesses can be a terrific place for you to go and avoid crowds. Most of these small firms are lucky to have five customers in an entire day, so it’s not like you would be dealing with crowds like you would in large, multi-national retailers.”

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