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COVID-19: Edmonton retailers urge local support during holiday season

Jenna Pryor poses inside Plum Home + Design  on November 19, 2020.
Jenna Pryor poses inside Plum Home + Design on November 19, 2020. Morgan Black/Global News

Small businesses in Edmonton are urging people to shop locally when they’re able to.

Both consumers and retailers are facing uncertainty this holiday season. Many people are eager to support Edmonton-based businesses, while also trying to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

It’s a complicated balance to strike — with some shying away from public spaces as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across Alberta.

Jenna Pryor, owner of Plum Home + Design, said she’s noticed a decline in foot traffic in the last week.

“It makes sense. The COVID-19 numbers are high and they are worrisome. We want everyone to take their health seriously. It’s important,” she said.

Read more: Alberta records new daily high of 1,105 COVID-19 cases Thursday, 8 additional deaths

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Pryor said it’s an extremely difficult time to run a small business.

“It is gnawing at us at night. We’re worrying about business, our employees, our fellow business owners.”

The pandemic has forced huge changes to how stores operate and how consumers shop. Many local retailers are adding curbside pickup or online shopping to entice customers.

“There are ways to support local and stay home,” Pryor said. “We are trying to find ways to make things easier for our customers.”

John Pracejus is the director of the School of Retailing at the University of Alberta. He said an uncertain economy can cause added stress and tighten consumers’ budgets.

Read more: New initiative encourages Edmontonians to shop local

“A lot of people have either had incomes reduced or they are unemployed or just concerned about what may happen in the future,” he said.

“This is a very important time for retailers in general. A lot of retailers make a huge percentage of sales during the holiday season.”

Pyror said her business makes 40 per cent of its earnings between November and December.

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“If we don’t support our small businesses… we won’t be here,” she said.

Read more: Innovation, free time help Edmontonians launch online businesses during COVID-19

If you are shopping in-store, Pracejus recommends shopping earlier than you have in the past to avoid crowds and cold temperatures. He also said it’s important to remember the current situation is putting additional stress on many.

“Remember these retail workers are frontline workers, they are putting themselves at a little bit of risk to make your holiday special so if there are lines to get in or something, try to keep patience,” he said.

Click to play video 'Calgarians urged to shop local during holiday season' Calgarians urged to shop local during holiday season
Calgarians urged to shop local during holiday season – Nov 17, 2020

Pryor said she spends time each night going through the day’s purchases and the regulars who have come through the store.

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“I just feel so incredibly grateful. That little purchase just has this beautiful ripple effect.”