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Retailers, shopkeepers prepare for busy holiday season in Simcoe County

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After the jolly man in red appeared in Barrie, the busiest time of the year for store owners is officially underway.

An estimated 25,000 people took in the annual Santa Claus parade in Barrie Saturday night, coinciding with a Christmas tree lighting at Meridian Place.

For many, the parade signals the start of a busy retail season.

Sandi McMillan and her sister Wendy Greene have owned and operated Our House on Dunlop Street for 30 years.

"All the people that came to watch the parade, it was an incredible parade. It was like 60 floats, and the number of people, I've never seen that many," McMillan said.

McMillan said the added foot traffic downtown is what retailers look for.

"I hope we do well. I hope a lot of people come out because there are also other amazing vendors here other than us," said Shannon Williams, the owner of Twist of Grey and a vendor at a Christmas market in Barrie on Sunday. "It's how every small business feeds their family clothes. Their family puts a roof over their heads. It's extremely important."

Several business owners who spoke to CTV News said they would not be hiring more staff for the holidays but would be taking on more duties with what they have, saying the season is critical to their survival.

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