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Calgarians adapt to new retail reality as more businesses reopen
CALGARY -- As some local businesses opened their doors Monday, Calgarians began adjusting to a new kind of retail experience.
Anna Mathison and her friends made their first purchases since the COVID-19 pandemic first shut retailers down back in mid-March at local gift shop Poor David’s in Inglewood.
At the door they were greeted with a hand sanitizing station.
“It’s a little weird,” Mathison said.
“There’s a limit on how many people can be in the store at any own time, but with the hand sanitizer station I feel safe shopping again.”
For some retail stores it really was business as usual, but in these pandemic days, not everyone feels comfortable making purchases in-store.
According to new study results from Payments Canada, about 53 per cent of Canadians reported using card or mobile tap payment for in-store purchases more often than pre-pandemic.
About 42 per cent said they avoided shopping at places that did not accept contactless payments, and 52 per cent tried not to exceed the contactless limit when buying something in store.
Local shopper Sarah Trudel agrees that the fewer items she touches, the more safe she feels.
“I’m definitely more cautious,” she said.
“There’s less touching of things in store and only touching exactly the item that I want to purchase.”
Closed for good
While some stores were finally getting customers, other businesses are closed for good.
Executive Director of the Kensington Business Revitalization Zone, Annie McInnis, says a lack of revenue and rent struggles have been a struggle numerous small business owners couldn't withstand.
“We’ve lost about nine (Kensington-area) businesses during COVID,” McInnis said.
“Some landlords have forgiven rent for a couple months, but other are doing less than that.
McInnis adds that businesses have accrued extra costs to extreme clean and change capacity to their stores and hope the province might offer support in the form of $1,000 to $2,000 grants.
David Low with the Victoria Park Business Association agreed that rent has been a major issue for many of the businesses he represents.
“Some days I feel like I’m the captain of the Titanic and it’s gonna be a hard ride,” he said.
Low said businesses are doing their best to adapt by limiting touch points, cleaning extensively and increasing physical distancing protocols.
“But we again have to be respectful and tolerant of everyone’s situation and every business is going to be different because of its physical layout and operational compilations.”
“The wild card here though," he said, "remains whether customers will come back - and that’s a serious concern.”