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Calgary businesses brace for slowdown as pandemic fears intensify

Calgary businesses face slowdowns as COVID-19 fears grip city
WATCH ABOVE: Small businesses in Calgary are reporting slower sales and revenues as people stay home amid COVID-19 fears. Tomasia DaSilva reports.

Calgary businesses already suffering through a prolonged economic downturn are now also being hit hard by COVID-19.

At Mayland Heights Barber Shop in northeast Calgary, business has definitely been trimmed according to the owner.

“It hasn’t been that busy,” owner Moe Masri said. “Probably last week my business has been cut in half.”

Moe Masri cuts a clients hair at Mayland Heights Barber Shop
Moe Masri cuts a clients hair at Mayland Heights Barber Shop. Tomasia DaSilva

The shop has been taking precautions, including spraying and wiping down all fixtures and seating areas, but Masri said many customers remain concerned and there is only so much he can do to stop the fear from spreading.

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“I am considering closing down for a couple of weeks because of that,” he added.

WATCH: Several Calgary employers working from home amid COVID-19 concerns

The Big Cheese Poutinerie is still open, even though it has also seen a huge downturn in business.

“At… both locations, about 40 per cent already, and that’s just the beginning,” said Giselle Palma, whose family runs the business.

The Big Cheese Poutinerie one of many Calgary restaurants suffering during pandemic
The Big Cheese Poutinerie one of many Calgary restaurants suffering during pandemic. Tomasia DaSilva

Its 17 Avenue S.W. location lost a huge clientele when the province closed down all schools, and its tables were almost empty during the lunch hour on Monday.

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Palma is worried what will happen, if things don’t pick up soon.

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“Sales are going to go down and employees are going to be let go. It’s not a good option for us because we’re a family business.”

The Big Cheese Poutinerie one of many Calgary restaurants suffering during pandemic
The Big Cheese Poutinerie one of many Calgary restaurants suffering during pandemic. Tomasia DaSilva

Some other Calgary restaurants have taken drastic measures, posting signs advising that operations are being scaled back or they’re completely shutting down.

Mr. Lu Japanese Street Food posts sign on its door advising of closure
Mr. Lu Japanese Street Food posts sign on its door advising of closure. Global News

Going from bad to worse

Mary Moran, president and CEO of Calgary Economic Development, acknowledged these are definitely tough times.

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Moran said not only are businesses facing staffing challenges, but they are also seeing an impact to revenue. She said that is why Calgary is creating a civic and community partners task force to look at two things: resilience and recovery.

“We have to start thinking about those things immediately,” Moran said. “Because we’re going to have to redeploy resources to do different things than we have in the past.”

Moran emphasized that Calgary is resilient, as seen during the 2013 floods, and the city and its residents will bounce back.

How Calgarians can help local businesses

So what can Calgarians do in the meantime to help these businesses?

Some economic experts suggest buying gift cards, adding that will contribute to revenue now and can be used later.

Other Calgarians, like Jacob Sinclaire, are going even further to support local businesses. He was one of the clients who stopped in at Mayland Heights Barber Shop on Monday.

“You want to prevent as much of the economy collapse as you can. And I feel as long as I can keeping my day-to-day tasks and what I feel I need to do, I’m going to keep doing it.”