'You can click local': island retailers plead for online purchases as foot traffic fades
VICTORIA -- Greater Victoria's Chamber of Commerce is urging islanders to seek out local retailers in person — and online — this holiday season.
As a new wave of COVID-19 restrictions in B.C. are expected to keep thousands home during the holidays, the fear of another blow to small businesses has some asking for a ‘click-local’ Christmas.
"Instead of shopping on Amazon or a big box store, try somewhere that sells local products," said Migration shop manager Laura Day.
Migration is a small arts retailer on Victoria's Government Street.
Local business owners have shifted to an online model but say as foot traffic dies off in the vital holiday shopping season, digital sales are failing to impress.
"It's been a real struggle this year," Day told CTV News.
Bruce Williams, who is the head of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, says most local businesses either have an online presence or will take orders over the phone and deliver them to your front door.
"You can buy all that stuff locally, you don't need to go to Amazon," said Williams. "Support your local (businesses)."
The digital push comes as a report from Vancity and the Canadian Urban Institute shows COVID-19's devastating impact on main street economies.
The large scale research project took a close look at several Canadian shopping hubs, including Victoria's Government Street.
Findings showed that due to hits to tourism and the lack of workers in the core, foot traffic fell by nearly one million people on Government Street since April.
Roughly 85 per cent of businesses polled reported decreased revenues, and more than half (54 per cent) reported revenues less than 50 per cent of pre-COVID revenues.
Tourism businesses continue to suffer the most.
Five shops were also found to have simply closed all together.
The interim president of Vancity, Christine Bergeron, says that the only hope that many small businesses have of surviving the holidays is through online sales.
"You have to take more time to look, but you can click local," she said.
Victoria's Chamber of Commerce website has a list of dozens of local businesses who have made the digital shift.