The holiday season, and holiday spending, is in full swing.
But behind the scenes, things are different.
During the week, Marie Takahashi makes, and bakes, pies at her shop, the Victoria Pie Company that she opened in September.
“We were all shocked,” she said, referring to the number of customers seen this week.
She’s been selling her pies and specialty mustards at local Christmas markets for years, but when she set up shop this past weekend, things were noticeably quiet.
“This year to last year we saw a 47 per cent decrease in sales,” she said. “I talked to a wide variety of vendors over the weekend, they saw anywhere from 35 to 70 per cent decreases.”
There are signs that consumers are not in a high-spending mood.
According to a report from Deloitte Canada, Canadians are reining in their holiday spending.
They’ll shell out 11 per cent less this season compared to last year, for an average of $1,347.
Jeff Bray, CEO of the Downtown Victoria Business Association, says Victoria’s downtown retailers are not expecting an economic downturn this year after several strong seasons coming off the pandemic.
However, businesses are not resting on their laurels either.
“No question, cost of living has been one of those topical issues,” said Bray. “There is no question that families are looking at discretionary spending, and we may see some change.”
That’s why the DVBA is offering free parking downtown at city parkades, at the Bay Centre’s parkade, and at several Robbins’ lots on two Saturdays this month.
“We just encourage people to come downtown to enjoy downtown. And while you are down here, do some shopping, go for a meal,” Bray said.
Back at the Victoria Pie Company, Takahashi is preparing for this weekend’s Christmas market, and hopes sales will be a little hotter.
“We’re hoping that it was a one-off. It was just a slow start to the season. Maybe people are holding off their Christmas shopping a little bit longer,” Takahashi said.
And she’s not the only retailer hoping to ring in the New Year on a positive note.