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

Leila Bui with her parents Tuan (left) and Kairry Nguyen on Jan. 27, 2020 after Tenessa Nikirk was found guilty for striking Bui in a Saanich crosswalk. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Driver convicted of dangerous driving after hitting Leila Bui out on bail

Tennesa Nikirk was convicted for striking then 11-year-old Leila Bui with her car

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed as Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

The Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre will once again be transformed into temporary sheltering for 45 individuals starting in March. (Courtesy of the B.C. Government)
Temporary shelter to resume at Victoria Save-On-Foods arena in March

BC Housing signed lease with GSL Group from Feb. 1 to May 30

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
UPDATE: No sign of small plane that went down in Juan de Fuca Strait

Searchers out on both sides of border between Victoria and Port Angeles

Victoria police are seeking a young woman suspected of spitting on a bus driver in October 2020. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
VIDEO: Young woman sought after ‘spitting assault’ on Victoria bus driver

Suspect became irate after bus came to a sudden stop

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 26

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(B.C. government photo)
POLL: Would you like to see restrictions on travel to B.C. from other provinces?

With a host of more virulent strains of COVID-19 appearing across the… Continue reading

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Downtown Fernie is pictured after a snowfall.
B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at B.C. legislature on the province’s mass vaccination plan for COVID-19, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 quarantine not an option for B.C., John Horgan says

Apres-ski parties increase risk, not interprovincial travel

Most Read