Shaun Vardon CTV News Ottawa Multi-Skilled Journalist
Santa Claus at St. Laurent Shopping Centre on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021. (Shaun Vardon/CTV News Ottawa)
Less than two weeks before Christmas, many Ottawa businesses are still feeling the COVID pinch.
According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, only 35 per cent of small businesses in Ontario are seeing normal revenues for this time of year.
Julie Kwiecinski, the director of provincial affairs for Ontario at the CFIB says Christmas won’t be merry and bright for many businesses. Almost 18 per cent of Ontario small businesses are considering bankruptcy.
“Across the province, sales are not looking very good this holiday shopping season,” Kwiecinski said. “Now with the new variant, that is keeping people at home and keeping them in the habit of online shopping.
Kwiecinski said more than half of businesses are concerned their customers have moved to either online shopping or big business shopping and won’t return.”
Al the St Laurent Shopping Centre, foot traffic and sales are up from last year, but retailers saying habits have changed.
Instead of spending the afternoon shopping, eating and browsing the stores, customers come in and out, just getting what they already planned to buy.
Kristina Sparkes, the Marketing Manager at St Laurent says although there is optimism around this Christmas season, numbers have not returned to pre-pandemic levels.
“We have seen a nice increase in traffic over last year, we have seen a lot of people out shopping but we are definitely not back to 2019 scenario by any stretch,” marketing manager Kristina Sparkes said.
“We don’t have some of the occupancy restrictions we have had in the past and people are happy they have stock to sell in their stores.”
Shoppers CTV News spoke with were positive about Christmas 2021, saying being able to get together with family means they will be spending more.
Shopper Ally Mamo says seeing things open makes it a lot more exciting, and she feels that excitement pushes people to spend more.
“I think last year we did not really do anything we just kind of stayed at home. COVID was at an all time high and now we can see our relatives and kind of have a normal Christmas unlike last year.”
However, with the rapidly surging Omicron variant of COVID-19, families may need to reconsider their holiday gathering plans.
Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said the province could move to restrict indoor gatherings as early as this week.
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