BARRIE, ONT. -- Businesses were bustling with activity in Barrie as determined holiday shoppers eagerly checked items off their lists.

The pandemic didn't seem to deter people from lining up outside stores.

The Ontario government recently moved Simcoe Muskoka into the orange COVID-19 zone, which places some enhanced restrictions on retailers but doesn't prevent people from shopping.

Cary Grant owns and operates Cary Grant Clothing on Dunlop Street and said, like most small business owners, the holidays are a bigger deal this year than most.

"On a regular Christmas year, it's usually about 30 per cent of our sales right now, I'm thinking, maybe even if we jump 15 per cent to 20 per cent it's still okay," Grant said.

Some shoppers said they were out early to avoid the potential crowds in the coming weeks.

"We do know that people are going to come from the south up to our stores, and that's just a risk we're not willing to take," said one shopper at the Georgian Mall in Barrie.

Many stores have reduced operating hours and the option of curbside pickup and delivery to avoid heading out altogether.