Businesses flourish outside of Victoria’s downtown core

Businesses flourish outside of Victoria's downtown core
WatchIt's no secret that many businesses are impacted by the pandemic. But as thousands continue to work from home, they are also shopping close to home. As Mary Griffin reports, that's a boost for their communities.

Everything is fitting just right in the new home of Hughes Clothing, a men’s and women’s clothing store.

After 36 years in the heart of Victoria’s downtown, the business opened its doors on Oct. 1 at its new location in Oak Bay.

Owner Rebecca Burrows said it was the right decision. “This has really just brought a new life to the store, and I think, to the village. It’s been great.”

Late Friday morning, the sidewalks in Oak Bay are full of shoppers. It’s a far cry from what’s playing out in downtown Victoria. Once busy streets are now marked by the empty storefronts. There are stores with windows papered over.

Bruce Williams, CEO of Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, said he’s heard that the volume of business is down in the core. On Thursday, B.C.’s top doctor announced that thousands of civil servants won’t return to their government offices for at least two weeks. That is having an impact as tens of thousands continue working, and shopping, from home.

“If people are not coming downtown to work. They are probably not coming downtown to shop,” Williams said.

For those downtown businesses still holding on, downtown advocates say people can still buy locally even if they are staying home.

“The big picture story is online companies. Whatever you are buying there you can also source locally,” Williams said.

And the good news for consumers, many local retailers are gearing up for online Christmas campaigns, ike the Christmas auction sponsored by the chamber.

READ MORE: Island Health warns of possible COVID-19 exposure at Victoria pub

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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