Ontario Premier Doug Ford pleaded with consumers to “shop local” as the government ordered Toronto into lockdown and tightened Covid-19 restrictions across parts of Canada’s largest province.
“If you’re shopping online, I know it can be easy just to go with Amazon, but please remember that you can buy the exact same product from a local store,” Ford told reporters Friday in Toronto. “Please do your holiday shopping through curbside pickup or online stores, support our restaurants and order takeout.”
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business waded into the fray with comments targeting big box stores that are allowed to stay open as “essential services” while most retailers, including small businesses, are limited to curbside pickup or delivery.
“Today’s restrictions once again create an unfair advantage for big box operators like Walmart and Costco, leaving Main Street retailers to shoulder the burden alone,” CFIB President Dan Kelly said in a statement. “That large department stores can be open while small retailers are forced to close during the busiest season of the year is a direct punch to the gut of independent businesses”
Retailers with locations in malls typically get 40% of their annual revenue during the holiday season and will be at risk if they can’t recoup their losses, according to Diane Brisebois, chief executive officer of Retail Council of Canada, which represents about 45,000 merchants.
“It is going to be extremely challenging for all the retailers to quickly try to adapt their business,” Brisebois said by phone. “We would have preferred more advance notice, especially as we are entering a critical week with Black Friday.”
Restaurants Canada, a group representing thousands of food service businesses across the country, said its members were “surprised” at the decision to close down patio dining in Toronto and Peel, having previously been told it was safe.
“Restaurants that have invested heavily in trying to extend patio season have now seen those investments go up in smoke,” James Rilett, the group’s vice president for central Canada, said by phone.
“The Christmas season is usually the time when restaurants to get some revenue ahead and put some money in the bank to make it through the long winter. Unfortunately, we won’t really have a Christmas season this year between the lockdowns and people not having office parties or family parties.”
— With assistance by Erik Hertzberg
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