The Christmas retail rush has kicked in early in Atlantic Canada amid COVID-19

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WATCH: The retail Christmas rush has kicked in early this year as the Retail Council of Canada reports one quarter of Canadians had already started shopping in October. Shelley Steeves has the story – Nov 23, 2020

As the number of cases of COVID-19 continues to climb in Atlantic Canada and across the country, the Christmas shopping rush has kicked in early.

Read more: Coronavirus Christmas: Canadians should celebrate outdoors, virtually, experts say

According to the Retail Council of Canada, one quarter of Canadians had already started Christmas shopping back in October.

Jim Cormier, the Retail Council of Canada’s Atlantic Director, said the council has launched a “shop early shop safe” campaign encouraging people to spread out their shopping over a longer period to avoid the last-minute rush and long line ups as an added safety precaution amid the pandemic.

“We encourage people to do some of your research at home that way when you do come into a brick and mortar store if you choose to do so when you come in you know what you are looking for and you can pick up that item and leave in a more timely manner,” said Cormier

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Nancy MacNeill of Moncton started her shopping early to avoid the rush and she said she is worried that her shopping plans might get shut down altogether if retail stores are forced to shut down amid an outbreak.

Read more: B.C.’s small businesses fear cold Christmas amid surging COVID-19 cases

“I am afraid like everyone else that stores are all going to get closed down and we are going to be out of luck,” she said.

Steve Clarke, who owns Gifts Galore retail gift shop in Moncton, said he’s never seen people shop this early and people have been coming in with wish lists since September.

“We don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring and they don’t take a jay for granted. But I see it as people wanting to have joy at Christmas. they want that good feeling that comes with Christmas earlier,” he said.

That was certainly was the case at Yuletide Christmas Tree Farm just outside of Riverview, N.B. Owner Nancy Secord said they experienced their earliest Christmas rush to date this past weekend.

“Probably three times the amount of trees that we would normally sell this time of the year. I think people are just fed up with COVID and are getting out and getting things done early,” said Secord.

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

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