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Montreal stores reopen for business but pandemic a drag on sales

Montreal stores reopen for business but pandemic a drag on sales
WATCH: According to the Retail Council of Canada-Quebec, the average foot traffic in the Montreal shopping area of Monkland village is between 30 and 75 five per cent compared to 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As Global's Felicia Parrillo reports, sales for small businesses are not at all what they once were.

July is normally the busiest month at DEBra Lingerie.

After being shut down for months because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they finally opened the doors to their Monkland location a week ago.

But owner, Debbie Donelle says so far business is much slower than usual.

READ MORE: Back to business: Montreal-area stores prepare to open their doors amid coronavirus pandemic

“For the month of July, which normally like last year, was our strongest month, I’d say we’re lucky if we make 40 to 50 per cent of what we made last year,” she said.

Donelle says public health guidelines allow them to operate at one-third capacity.

They’re currently only open three days a week, because they don’t have the space or money to take on the rest of their staff, and they see clients by appointment only.

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READ MORE: Coronavirus:Montreal business owners struggle as revenues dry up amid pandemic

“The traditional job that used to be isn’t really enough right now,” said Donelle. “We need to do other things online, we’re talking to clients, we’re taking photos of bras — we’re still working remotely with people by phone and by email.”

The situation is similar with her neighbour, Le Brow Bar — a beauty and wellness boutique.

The family-owned business says they noticed a surge when they first opened a few weeks ago, but they say foot traffic is down, which hasn’t helped business.

READ MORE: Montrealers line up to shop as retail stores reopen after coronavirus lockdown

“There’s still people walking on the streets, but it seems like they wanna go, get what they want and then they want to go back home,” said Sheral Dhanani, the store manager.

According to the Retail Council of Canada-Quebec, the average foot traffic in the Montreal area is anywhere between 30 and 75 five per cent compared to 2019.

They say some retailers are doing better than others.

Stores that sell electronics, sports equipment, hardware and home supplies seem to be booming. On the other hand, clothing, footwear and jewelry stores aren’t doing as well.

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“Business is starting to roll, but of course, the whole segment of tourism is washed away, so that really hurts restaurants, businesses and retailers as well,” said Marc Fortin, president of the Retail Council of Canada-Quebec.

Fortin says like everyone else, retailers are bracing for a second wave.

He’s advising businesses that can to start preparing now by shifting some of their business online.