Pedestrians stroll along Spring Garden Road in Halifax on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. A new retail shopping event has arrived, encouraging consumers to support local, independent businesses during the holiday season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Pedestrians stroll along Spring Garden Road in Halifax on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. A new retail shopping event has arrived, encouraging consumers to support local, independent businesses during the holiday season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

‘Nightmare on Main Street:’ After a tough year, campaign urges consumers to buy local

Only 38 per cent of retail businesses are reaching their usual sales levels

A new retail event encouraged consumers to support small businesses on Saturday, reminding shoppers that the holiday season is a critical time for many neighbourhood mom-and-pop shops.

Small Business Saturday, wedged between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, is the latest sales campaign aimed at holiday shoppers.

But unlike its larger retail counterparts, which tend to shine a spotlight on big box stores, Small Business Saturday suggested consumers support their local stores.

The initiative comes during the holiday shopping season, a make-or-break time of year for many independent businesses.

Christie Pinese, who owns the home decor and gift shop Rose City Goods, said on Instagram that she’s been floored by how many people have taken up the shop-small cause, particularly in Toronto, where non-essential stores can only offer curbside pickup and delivery.

“This little shop is beyond grateful for the love and support you’ve showed us this year. Seeing so many people sharing their gift guides and lists warms my heart,” she wrote. “I love the awareness it brings and I’ve discovered some great new businesses myself recently because of it!”

In Edmonton, meanwhile, the team at Shop Harrow wished everyone a happy Small Business Saturday.

“Our team at Shop Harrow want to say thank you to everyone for all the support over the last little while,” an Instagram post read. “We sure have some amazing customers!”

Laura Jones, executive vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said 2020 has been one of the toughest years ever for many small retailers.

“It’s been a nightmare on Main Street,” she said in an interview Saturday. “It’s been financially and emotionally very, very difficult for small business.”

Jones said the shopping event is intended to push consumers towards supporting small businesses by making purchases online, using curbside pick-up or taking advantage of in-person shopping where possible.

“We’re asking people to think about their choices and become a conscious consumer,” she said, adding that the idea is to encourage shoppers to think beyond the big chains and online giants.

“The survival of small businesses in your neighbourhood depends on your support.”

According to the CFIB’s latest data, only 38 per cent of retail businesses are reaching their usual sales levels. The organization said one in seven, or about 158,000 businesses across Canada, are at risk of permanent closure.

Jones said small businesses are the “backbone of the economy.” Data compiled by the CFIB and campaign sponsor American Express said small businesses employ nine out of 10 Canadians and often support local charities, schools and sports teams.

“The bottom line is the consumer has the power to make a difference here,” she said. “We’re not powerless in this pandemic. The choices we make every day will shape what Canada is going to look like tomorrow.”

During the pandemic, many small businesses have ramped up their online presence.

The CFIB said more than 150,000 small businesses in Canada have entered the e-commerce market since March. In all, about a third now offer online sales.

Retail analyst Bruce Winder said an event like Small Business Saturday is “incredibly relevant” this year.

“Most small retailers have been shut down or limited for several months now and they’re really struggling,” he said. “This is a good way to get the message out there that they need our support.”

READ MORE: Black Friday shopping in a pandemic: COVID-19 closes some stores, sales move online

Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronaviruseconomySmall Business

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City of Armstrong community services manager and chief bylaw officer Warren Smith stands with the new food waste bin and garbage cart to be delivered to eligible residents later this month. (Brooke Hovey photo)
Armstrong changes waste collection system

Residents to be given new bins as part of the new system which goes into effect May 1

By 2050, May will feel more like August, according to Vernon’s Action Climate Plan. The plan says we will have twice as many days above 30 degrees Celsius each summer. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Vernon takes action against climate change

First action plan an important step: Mayor

The administrative headquarters for Central Okanagan Public Schools in Kelowna. (File photo)
COVID-19 exposures confirmed at 6 Central Okanagan Schools

The infected individuals are self-isolating at home with support from local public health teams

Hallway design for the new Health Sciences Centre on the Kelowna campus of Okanagan College. (Contributed)
Okanagan College fundraiser counters pandemic

Health Sciences Centre campaign has raised $2 million in midst of COVID economic slowdown

Single-lane alternating traffic in the 6200 block of Silver Star Road starting Thursday, April 15 at 7:30 a.m. for the installation of water service. (City of Vernon)
Traffic disruptions coming to Vernon’s Silver Star Road

Single-lane alternating traffic to be in effect while work is underway

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

A bin of Pinot Gris grapes harvested in the north Willamette Valley rests before being crushed at Ponzi Vineyards. The pomace and lees from these grapes would normally go to waste, but Okanagan-based company Winecrush is changing that. (Photo courtesy of Ponzi Vineyards)
An Okanagan company is crushing wine-making’s sustainability goals

Program utilizes derivatives from the winemaking process, rather than letting them go to waste

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A health-care worker holds up a vial of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Montreal, Thursday, March 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
PHAC receives first report of blood clot linked to AstraZeneca

The federal agency says the person is now recovering at home

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(Black Press Media File Photo)
No criminal intent in the case of man who approached two children: Kelowna RCMP

“Investigators have determined there was no criminal intent on his part and that he regrets causing the children, their families and the community concern.”

A real estate sign is pictured in Vancouver, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward
1 in 3 young Canadians have given up on owning a home: poll

Data released Monday says 36% of adults younger than 40 have given up on home ownership entirely

Salmon Arm Homes for Rent/Sale Etc. is a popular Facebook page used by those with places for rent and people in need of them. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Carpenter building homes in Salmon Arm unable to find place to rent

Property manager says it’s easier to find work in Salmon Arm than a place to live

The old Shielings Motel is being demolished for an eventual roundabout to reduce congestion between Skaha Lake Road and South Main Street. The city is also hoping to have affordable seniors housing there too. (Brennan Phillips - Penticton Western News)
Affordable seniors housing coming to Shielings Motel site in Penticton

The city hopes to turn a portion of the site into affordable housing

Most Read