Local retailers bearing brunt of Canada Post strikes during busy holiday shopping season

Canada Post strikes hurting small Edmonton businesses
WATCH: Business groups say small local shops are bearing the brunt of the impact of ongoing rotating Canada Post strikes. Quinn Ohler reports on the strain one Edmonton store is feeling.

During the busy holiday shopping season, Red Ribbon Boutique on Edmonton’s High Street relies heavily on Canada Post. Much of its sales are done online and customers expect their packages to arrive on time.

But with rotating Canada Post strikes, it’s proving difficult.

READ MORE: Canada Post warns of delivery delays into January as rotating strikes continue

Owner Rychelle Tuck said she knows that her packages will be late arriving to customers — but exactly how late is a mystery.

“It’s a bit of a mess, to be honest,” Tuck told Global News.

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“They could be a week late, they could be three weeks late. There’s no guarantees.”

Tuck is afraid some shipments may not make it to her customers in time for Christmas.

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WATCH: The federal government’s possible back-to-work legislation couldn’t come soon enough for small businesses across the country. As Gil Tucker reports, many of them are losing big money as the strike drags on.

Canada Post strike hurting small businesses: ‘A serious dent in the bottom line’
Canada Post strike hurting small businesses: ‘A serious dent in the bottom line’

READ MORE: Canada Post rotating strikes hit Edmonton, Kelowna after union rejects latest offer

The Crown corporation has told its commercial customers that it cannot honour its delivery standards for any product because of the prolonged strikes.

The walkouts have created massive backlogs of mail and parcels just days before an expected rush of millions more parcels from Black Friday and Cyber Monday online sales.

“This is definitely an added stress we weren’t anticipating,” Tuck said.

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Canada Post has been the most cost-effective way for Red Ribbon Boutique to get its product across Canada. Tuck said if she had to rely on other service providers, like UPS and Purolator, it will cost more for her and her customers, and they are also delayed because of a backlog from the strike.

“Even if they would have given us more notice, more time, we could have prepared for this busy holiday season,” she said.

READ MORE: Despite rotating strikes, keep sending letters to Santa Canada Post tells parents

Experts say it’s small businesses that are bearing the brunt of job action.

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“Their margins are a lot thinner that the major retailers,” said Craig Patterson, the director of Applied Research at the University of Alberta’s School of Retailing. “They’re relying on Canada Post a lot more, whereas bigger retailers can go to an alternative supplier.

Patterson added that he’s heard, anecdotally, that many people are choosing to go back to brick and mortar stores to ensure they get their Christmas gifts on time for the big day. He added that means many will choose to go to larger retail spaces, like malls, as opposed to seeking out local businesses.

“It’s quite unfortunate,” he said. “I think Canada Post is doing a disservice not only to its customers but to itself with this strike.”

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The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) is calling on the federal government to end the strike with back-to-work legislation if a resolution is not reached soon. It says two-thirds of its members are being impacted by the strike and small businesses are losing out on thousands of dollars worth of revenue.

“These kinds of rotating strikes can be very disruptive for entrepreneurs and can put a serious dent in their bottom lines,” said CFIB vice-president for B.C. and Alberta, Richard Truscott. “It’s not just retail; this is really something that’s going to have an impact right across the economy.”

Watch below – Nov. 20: Shipment delays expected ahead of Black Friday, Cyber Monday as rotating strikes continue at Canada Post

Shipment delays expected ahead of Black Friday, Cyber Monday as rotating strikes continue at Canada Post
Shipment delays expected ahead of Black Friday, Cyber Monday as rotating strikes continue at Canada Post

The Canadian government is prepared to table back-to-work legislation if a resolution is not reached in the Canada Post strike within the next few days, Employment Minister Patty Hajdu said in a statement.

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“We have re-appointed the special mediator to work with the parties to reach an agreement.

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“We strongly encourage both sides to reach a deal and are prepared to table legislation if we do not see a resolution over the next few days – a step we do not take lightly,” Hajdu said.

READ MORE: Liberals willing to use back-to-work legislation to end Canada Post strike if deal not reached 

In the meantime, Red Ribbon Boutique is relying on friends and family to make deliveries throughout Edmonton.

“We want to make it easiest for our customers,” Tuck said. “If that makes it more inconvenient for us, that’s OK.”

Those orders from outside of city limits are left in limbo however, and that could have a major impact on current and future business.

With files from the Canadian Press and Global News’ Jessica Vomiero