Online Black Friday sales are expected to set records this week. As seen throughout the course of the pandemic, consumers are gravitating to shopping from their homes, instead of in person.
It may be working for major corporations, but for smaller, local businesses it’s another obstacle in an already challenging time. Like for Frontrunners Footwear, who even during the best of times has an uphill battle against big-time companies in the athletics apparel industry.
“It’s definitely been a challenge to fight the Amazons of the world and the national chains.” Said Co-Owner, Nick Walker.
The store shut down for seven weeks back in the early spring when COVID-19 first hit B.C. hard. It’s left them playing catchup ahead of the biggest online shopping day of the year.
“Every day we combat the will you match? Will you match a sale price? We do what we can to try and keep the dollars here. But that definitely is a hindrance when there’s so much online shopping.” Walker said.
For other downtown businesses that have managed to keep their doors open, there’s worry that black Friday sales stealing business, or a lackluster month of sales leading up to Christmas could be the final straw.
“If we don’t have a strong holiday season some businesses simply aren’t going to be able to survive through January and February. If you lose, you know 20 or 30 of those businesses you’re talking about hundreds of jobs. So the impact could be devastating.” Said the Executive Director of the Downtown Victoria Business Association, Jeff Bray.
Retail advocates say clothing stores have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic. At Migration boutique, they always count on the holiday season for a major boost in sales, this year, they’ll need it more than ever.
“This is sort of like a crucial spot. Especially due to Christmas shopping normally being a large portion of revenue, it makes it so we have a little more flex for when things get quiet in the coming months, so that’s why local shopping is so important.” Said Rory Pozzolo.
Shopping local doesn’t mean you have to leave your house, as many downtown businesses have launched online shopping services. A full list can be found on the downtown Victoria website.