Malls packed, small shops struggle to find pandemic holiday footing
BARRIE, ONT. -- Aside from masked-up shoppers and lines to get into various stores, it was a busy holiday Saturday like any other at Barrie's Georgian Mall.
Many people queued up to get into stores, to see Santa and hustled and bustled through lage groups of people.
The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is recommending residents only go out for essential items to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Still, many people at the mall Saturday told tell CTV News they had holiday shopping.
While malls and big-box retailers are crowded in some parts of the province, it's a different story for local, independent businesses doing their best to stay afloat.
Bliss Beneath on Essa Road sells lingerie, loungewear, and swimwear. Owner Tamara Disaveiro calls the store her "heart and soul," and the virus has posed challenges.
"For somebody in the small retail business, the holiday shopping season can contribute 40 to 50 percent of your annual sales," said Disaveiro.
Because of the pandemic, Disaveiro has added curbside pickup and shopping by appointment. The new business owner had to act fast to create an online shopping platform. It's something she planned to roll out over the next five years, not in her first 11 months.
Established in 1875, this isn't DC Taylor Jewellers' first rodeo.
"We've been through the Spanish Flu, and both World Wars," said David Taylor, who is the 4th generation of the family business.
Despite the shop's long history, this particular pandemic and its protocols are challenging, particularly for selling jewellery, something Taylor sees as typically an in-person experience.
The store has yet to see shoppers from outside Simcoe County, but Taylor said things are starting to pick up.
"Especially in the last week and a half since we've started to see other closures happen," said Taylor.
He believes some shoppers are panicked and buying now, fearing a potential local lockdown if new coronavirus infections don't slow down.