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

Just Posted

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes following provincial reopening announcement

Recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

HMCS Corner Brook returned to Victoria’s waters for the first time since 2015 on June 10. (Courtesy of the Royal Canadian Navy)
WATCH: Navy surveillance submarine returning to Victoria waters

HMCS Corner Brook one of first submarines to receive new communications systems

A new multi-family residential project at the corner of Hillside Avenue and Cook Street will feature nine below market-priced units aimed at middle-income, first-time homebuyers, through a partnership between BC Housing and the developer. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Middle-income first time homebuyers gain access to nine homes in Victoria

BC Housing partners with development community to create affordable purchases

(Black Press Media file photo)
COVID-19 exposure closes Oak Bay pub, restaurant

Penny Farthing, Vis-a-Vis expected to reopen Wednesday after deep clean

Victoria police officers used less-lethal weapons to arrest a woman Sunday night after she allegedly attacked a man with a hammer. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police use less-lethal weapons on woman following hammer attack

Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team called to barricade situation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials watching U.K.’s Delta variant struggles, ‘may need to slow’ restart plan

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

Announcement applies to all individuals of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background

Harvesting hay in the Fraser Valley. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
COVID-19: B.C. waives farm income requirement for a second year

Property owners don’t need minimum income for 2022 taxes

Cruise ship passengers arrive at Juneau, Alaska in 2018. Cruise lines have begun booking passengers for trips from Seattle to Alaska as early as this July, bypassing B.C. ports that are not allowed to have visitors until March 2022 under a Canadian COVID-19 restrictions. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire)
B.C. doesn’t depend on U.S. law to attract cruise ships, Horgan says

Provinces to get update next week on Canada’s border closure

Most Read