Worried traders a few days before Christmas

Shortage of manpower, return of queues, discouraged consumers: merchants face many challenges as the holiday season approaches and the return of capacity reduced to 50% within their walls as of Monday .

“The weekend before Christmas is always madness. This is usually where everyone runs, both for gifts and for preparations. [en vue de recevoir des proches à la maison]», Notes Glenn Castanheira, Managing Director of the Montreal Center-Ville Commercial Development Corporation (SDC).

The latter, however, expects retail traffic to be particularly high early next week, when many Montrealers who will have started their holiday break will do their last-minute shopping in anticipation of Christmas Eve. . “Everyone is going to be at their end. I expect that if there are any problems, it will be there then, ”he drops.

The return of the queues

In the context of the return on Monday of reduced reception capacity in shops, “we expect long queues, as we saw last year”, apprehends Mr. Castanheira, moreover, which recalls, however, that many retailers have improved their online shopping offer since the start of the pandemic.

For some traders, however, it is rather a reduced traffic that we fear, compared to previous years.

“It is certain that the announced restrictions will have an impact on sales,” says the general manager of the SDC Avenue du Mont-Royal, Claude Rainville. The latter also notes that the traffic of businesses in the commercial artery of the Plateau-Mont-Royal has started to decline since the Legault government urged employers, at the beginning of the week, to return to teleworking at the beginning of the week. 100%.

“We saw the traffic decrease compared to last year”, also notes the artistic director and development of the workshop-boutique of Harricana-Canadian Hat, Mariouche Gagné, whose establishment is located on the Wellington Street, in Verdun. “We hope that people will continue to come to see us,” adds Ms. Gagné, who assures us that physical distancing can easily be respected in her business, given its large size.

Mr. Rainville is also particularly worried about the restorers of the artery, who have been taken aback by a wave of cancellation of reservations in the last days. “It’s not just lost sales, it’s also that a few days before the Holidays, the fridges were full,” recalls Mr. Rainville, who hopes that assistance programs will be put in place again. place to come to the aid of bar and restaurant owners.

Labor shortage

The return of reduced reception capacity in shops also exacerbates the workforce issues in several establishments facing significant recruitment challenges.

“The real impact of health measures is that it takes more employees to control traffic,” says Glenn Castanheira.

Paul-André Goulet, who notably owns a three-story Sports Experts store on Sainte-Catherine Street West, fears that the “psychological impact” of the rise of this new wave of COVID-19 cases and the news health measures announced discourages some from shopping for the holiday season.

“Are people going to want to buy? Are they going to want to party? »Asks the merchant.

Hotels on the edge of the abyss

Although spared by the new health constraints announced Thursday by the Legault government, the hotels still pay the costs in ricochet. “With the panic that set in Thursday with the Prime Minister’s announcements, there is a wave of cancellations. It’s difficult for the hotel industry right now, ”confirms the President and CEO of the Association des Hôtels du Grand Montréal, Jean-Sebastien Boudreault.

If some programs managed by the federal government are still in place to help hoteliers, “at the municipal and provincial level, there is not much,” he deplores. But time is running out, insists Mr. Boudreault.

“If we don’t find solutions and we are not able to act quickly with rapid tests, that we are not able to help hoteliers, there are indeed hotels that will close. And we want to avoid that as much as possible, ”he drops.

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