Rising rent, operating costs threatening North End Halifax business

Click to play video: 'Operating costs threatening North End Halifax business'
Operating costs threatening North End Halifax business
WATCH: A North End business is at risk of closing due to increased rent costs, and experts say it's an unfortunate sign of the times. Pandemic lockdowns severely limited how businesses could operate for the past two years. As Alicia Draus reports, inflation is now putting pressure on businesses as they try to recover – Jul 9, 2022

At the corner of North and Agricola Streets in Halifax, sits the Mid-East Food Centre, a grocery store specializing in middle-eastern foods.

The store itself has been there for decades and current owner Abdulsalam Mohammad has been operating it for nearly 15 years, but he says the store is at risk of closing.

“My lease is over and in general after the lease is done they increase the rent,” he said.

That rent increase is expected to cost him an additional one to two thousand dollars a month, something he says is just too much.

The President for the Atlantic Business Federation says Mohammad’s situation is not unique.

“It’s a very bad time [for businesses.] We’ve seen inflation has increased to the highest levels since 1981,” said Paul Trainor.
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“As leases come up for renewal, the landlords, of course their costs are going through the roof as well.”

Trainor points out it’s not just rent that’s an issue. He says with inflation rising, costs for everything are going up, and that means many small businesses are forced to pass those costs onto consumers.

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“It’s going to be an impact, no question. More for the small mom and pop shops,” said Trainor.

“People are turning to the big online stores just because their overhead isn’t as high, so the small medium-sized business owners are the most vulnerable in the economy.”

Mohammad says the cost of supplies is also contributing to challenges with his store, especially as nearly all his products are imported from overseas.

Click to play video: 'Adapting to inflation in a post-COVID world'
Adapting to inflation in a post-COVID world

While he’s now looking for a new place, he says he’s hoping to downsize in order to keep going, but he is also hoping to remain in the north end.

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“The store itself is not just a business,” said Mohammad.

“It’s very connected to the neighbourhood and it’s a social place.”

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