Coronavirus: Montreal small businesses upset they’re closed while big box stores remain open

Coronavirus outbreak: Montreal small business owners forced to close are frustrated big box stores get to remain open
Montrealer small business owners forced to close are frustrated big box stores get to remain open.

Many independent business owners in Montreal are frustrated that they remain closed while big box retailers who sell competing items are allowed to stay open

“So those big box stores are selling items … and we have been told we have to close,” DEBra owner Debbie Donelle said.

“Personally, one the things I find really frustrating is that the big box stores are allowed to remain open because they sell a little bit of groceries,” said Donelle.

The Retail Council of Canada is trying to work out a deal with the government to get these businesses much-needed help.

“This is why we are negotiating these programs with the government, to help them out with their overhead cost, with their rent, just so they had some support so they can gradually reopen,” Marc Fortin, Retail Council of Canada (Quebec) president, told Global News.

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READ MORE: Coronavirus: Montreal-area business owners anxious to get back to work

Many retailers believe they will not be able to retain or make back the money they have lost.

“They’re losing right now sales that they cannot do because they’re forced to remain closed,” CFIB Quebec vice president. Francois Vincent said.

“Right now, 35 per cent of small and medium businesses in Quebec are closed.”

According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, 37 per cent of businesses struggled to pay their monthly rent this month. It is expected to be even higher in May.

“If you do not have revenue but you still to pay your bills, it’s difficult right now,” Vincent said. “For the month of May, they told us that 55 per cent of business, without any help, it would be difficult for them to pay rent.”

READ MORE: Trudeau announces rent relief of 75% for small businesses affected by Coronavirus

Business owners are worried that people won’t spend money in their shops because of job losses and the number of people allowed in the store at one time could affect sale numbers.

“A lot of people have lost their jobs, they won’t spend a lot, and at the same time, they have to put in health and safety measures,” Vincent said.

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“They won’t be able to have the same amount of costumers in their stores so the consumption will not be the same.”

Small businesses say they’re ready to open when given the go ahead, but clear guidelines from health and safety, a campaign to get people back into local and small businesses and financial aid will all be key for them to get back on their feet once the economy hits a reset.