New retail restrictions in effect in Saskatchewan for Boxing Day

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New retail restrictions in effect in Saskatchewan
WATCH: New restrictions limiting the number of people in stores came into effect just before Boxing Day, one of the busiest shopping days of the year. – Dec 26, 2020

On December 25 new COVID-19 restrictions came into effect in Saskatchewan, limiting the number of people in stores.

One Saskatoon store owner says he is just happy to be open on Boxing Day, which he says is his busiest sales day of the year.

“We’re just grateful to be open and have customers coming in,” Michael Napper, owner of Backside Boards, said over the phone.

“We could not be open. That would be very tough.”

He agreed to let Global News interview him in the store because he was so busy, though he said he definitely wasn’t seeing more customers than normal.

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The new restrictions limit retailers, essential and non-essential, to half their regular capacity.

Napper said he maintained that number by keeping his door locked and directing customers into his store when others left. He also said a staff member accompanied shoppers to help them with their purchases so that customers wouldn’t be wandering around the store and potentially breaking physical distance limits.

“In these times every day [we’re open] helps, any day we can get sales through, helps,” he said.

He told Global News the coronavirus hasn’t been good for business.

But parking lots at large stores in Saskatoon and Regina are looking a lot like any other Boxing Day, with most spots full and lines in front of some retailers.

The restrictions limit big-box retailers with more than 20,000 square feet of space, or about 6,100 metres, to a quarter capacity.

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At the Best Buy in Saskatoon’s Preston Crossing, the store was sparse,  with a few dozen customers in it around noon.

General Manager Rokhan Sawar said there was still a line out front before the store opened, even if opening was delayed by an hour.

“This year we were open at 8 [a.m.]. There was, however, some modifications. We’ve allowed customers to take advantage of the curbside pickup which started at 6 a.m., but we did see a lineup starting around 7 o’clock.”

He said the company had been planning for the day a while ago, allowing customers to use the curbside pick-up option and extending Boxing Day sales and the time the store would hold purchases for customers to encourage business.

He wouldn’t say how the store was faring that day but did tell Global News it was doing better than a month ago.

“I would say our Boxing Day traffic so far that I’ve noticed is still higher compared to our Black Friday [results],” he said.

Marec Martynes is a habitual Boxing Day deal hunter and said he liked the new arrangement.

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“If anything it’s quieter, a little bit better and easier to get your stuff,” he said, standing outside the store.

“I still wanted to get stuff and I knew there’d probably be restrictions in place and everything would be safe for me to come out.”

He and his brother Garrison were only in line for about 20 minutes.

Shirley Goodwin and her son Seamus Quinn said the same thing.

“The line moved quick and once you were inside there was lots of room to shop,” Goodwin said.

It was her first time shopping on Boxing Day but both Goodwin and Quinn said they didn’t mind shopping on such a busy day because of the restrictions in place.

“We go in and out we’re not hanging around, we just go in get what we want and leave,” Goodwin said.

Some shoppers in Regina told Global News they didn’t wait in line at all.

That’s not possible at a store the size of Napper’s but he said he appreciated the customers who adapted.

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“I’m just grateful for everyone who’s been supporting brick-and-mortar and local businesses.”

-With files from Roberta Bell and Thomas Piller

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.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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