Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many local and independent businesses are struggling to survive.
To help, campaigns are emerging across the province, urging Quebecers to buy local in an effort to increase business.
In Canada, 63 per cent of businesses are fully open, but only one quarter are doing normal sales, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).
Quebec’s figures are above the national average — 72 per cent are fully open, but only a third of them are doing normal sales.
Eight per cent of Quebec’s small- and medium-sized businesses are currently at risk of closing. The art, recreation and hospitality sectors are being hit worse than others.
“Our data shows that we can lose 150, 000 small and medium businesses in Canada,” said François Vincent, CFIB vice-president for Quebec.
“One way to help the economic recovery, to help these business owners to go back to normal again, is by consumer choice.”
On that front, Vincent said there is some good news.
“We are seeing a wave of encouragement for small businesses, for shop local,” he said, adding that CFIB has also recently launched its own initiative: Small Business Everyday.
In Quebec City, residents can purchase “solidarity dollars” through this crowdfunding website. This type of local currency can be used at hundreds of participating businesses.
For each dollar redeemed, the city adds another 25 cents.
“We want people to put money in the community, in the businesses that are in the city, not in Amazon,” said Alexia Oman with Monnaie locale complémentaire Québec, the organization behind the initiative.
“If you shop local, you get free money,” Oman explained.
There are 70 similar initiatives in Quebec, including 21 active campaigns, sponsored by local governments and commercial associations. Desjardins is also a partner. It matches the money raised through crowd-funding in donations up to $25,000 to local charities.
Pointe-Claire’s “I shop in the village” campaign launched Tuesday afternoon and reached its goal in just three days.
“We’ve already hit and surpassed our original goal, which would have injected $70,000 into our community, so it’s been a huge success so far,” said Magda Bishay, the Pointe-Claire Village Commercial Association president.
Bishay said it also helps consumers who, these days, have fewer dollars to spend.
“They’ll participate in this to make their dollars go further,” Bishay said.
So far, the campaigns have raised $4 million province-wide — money that merchants desperately need as they try to survive the coronavirus crisis.
Oman said she hopes that the campaigns will also help Quebecers to develop the habit to think — and shop — local.
“That’s the whole idea. It’s to put a little seed in the head of everyone,” she said.