Like most merchants during the pandemic, The Passionate Home owner Carrie Thachuk is selling a lot more than she used to over the internet.
“We had to move to online,” Thachuk explained.
Thachuk temporarily closed her Langley City store in March during the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Passionate Home has since reopened under stringent safety protocols including directional arrows on the floor to keep browsers at a safe distance from each other, as well as masks and other measure.
“We are doing everything we can to keep our staff and customers safe,” Thachuk told the Langley Advance Times.
Thachuk said business has been good, because people are spending more time at home and using that time to redecorate, which is where her store and its stock of repurposed and restyled pieces, along with specialty paint, comes in.
“We’ve been lucky,” she said.
Thachuk isn’t planning a special sale for Boxing Day, in fact, she isn’t planning to open that day, preferring to court customers over a long period.
“It’s now Boxing week,” she explained.
Studies show Canadian businesses have been quicker to adopt online shopping as a way of coping with the COVID-19 crisis, according to David Dobson, associate professor in the University of the Fraser Valley School of Business
“People will be shopping, but it will be mostly online,” Dobson predicted.
When they do attend brick and mortar stores, consumers are more likely to arrive with a plan and the intention of getting in and out quickly.
“People are planning more. They’re making a list and thinking twice,” Dobson commented.
Most want to limit their time in-store to limit the possibility of exposure, he said.He agrees that Boxing Day isn’t the big one-day sales event it used to be, but he thinks Boxing Day week could be a good one for businesses that have been able to reach their customers online, especially considering the indications that Canadian shoppers are ready to spend more than usual this holiday season.
“They [customers] will be shopping and they will spend money,” Dobson predicted.
‘Shop local’ campaigns and the continuing closure of the U.S./Canada border will also be factors, Dobson cited.
Spokespersons for the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Langley Business Association said local merchants have learned how to work around pandemic restrictions, and will be applying those lessons to the post-Christmas sales season.
Chamber CEO Colleen Clark said businesses who traditionally didn’t have much of an internet presence, now do.
“A lot of businesses didn’t venture online, until the need was there,” Clark observed.
“A lot of people are shopping online now.”
Teri James, executive director of the Downtown Langley Business Association, said that new expertise was demonstrated during the recent Black Friday sales on Nov. 27.
Black Friday started in U.S. as a sales event following Thanksgiving Day, and has come to overshadow Boxing Day.
On the day this year, both online and off, Langley City merchants were busy, James said.
“There were lineups [outside] at most businesses,” James described,.
“It’s very encouraging to see.”
James and Clark said the current closure of the Canada-U.S,. border combined with “shop local” campaigns has also had a positive impact.
“Everyone has kind of come to see that this is a new normal,” James commented.
Diane Brisebois, president of the Retail Council of Canada, has also cited the border closure, and an increased push to buy local, as factors that will benefit Canadian retailers both online and in-person.
“We strongly believe there will be more Canadians making that extra effort to shop in a local brick-and-mortar store as well as find them online,” Brisebois said.
Eric Morris, head of retail at Google Canada, said e-commerce in Canada has doubled during the pandemic.
He said given ongoing lockdowns and in-store capacity limits, online sales are expected to be strong and remain so over the holiday shopping season.
– with files from Canadian Press