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Editorial: This Christmas, local shopping has never been more important

We’re into the holiday shopping season now and the city’s restaurants and retailers (and the thousands of people they employ) need you more than ever

Now that November has arrived and many of us start noticing just how quickly Dec. 25 is approaching, the shop local message has never been more important.

There is no doubt the Canadian economy is on the rebound after the country-wide shutdown from March to May as part of the COVID-19 pandemic response. As cases eased over the summer and society was slowly reopened, real GDP increased by three per cent in July and a further 1.2 per cent in August, a month that also saw overall economic activity climb to within five per cent of pre-COVID-19 levels.

GDP grew again in September, but by less than a percentage point (0.7 per cent). Looking at the third quarter overall, StatsCan finds real gross domestic product grew by about 10 per cent.

This is certainly good news.

But it is also news that is being delivered from 10,000 feet. Yes, the economy is rebounding at the macro level, but when you look at the situation from the street level, that rebound is not hitting every sector of the economy evenly.

Restaurants can open, but limit the number of patrons, unless they are a buffet-style restaurant, in which case they can’t open their buffet. Bars can open, but again, they have to limit patrons and dancing is out.

Limits on the number of people who can gather indoors has wide-ranging impacts on all sorts of businesses, from restaurants and bars, to gyms and beauty salons.

The food service industry in particular has been hard hit. While restaurants were allowed to reopen in July, restaurant owners are still seeing an almost 30 per cent reduction in their business on average, StatsCan reported this month, making the slim margins in that sector so thin they are transparent.

In Sudbury, the retail (more than 10,000 jobs) and accommodations (nearly 6,000 jobs) sectors are one of the city’s biggest employers. These are not only friends and neighbours, but taxpayers and consumers.

And they need our help. “Shop local” is a common refrain at this time of year, but never has it been more important.

When you are making your Christmas shopping list, we encourage you to consider purchasing gift cards to local restaurants, locally owned gyms and locally owned beauty salons, or local attractions like Science North. Perhaps the receiver of the card is not comfortable using that gift now, but they will be in the future, and locally owned businesses can really use that cash infusion now.

As well, we encourage you to shop in a local store, whether that store is a chain or otherwise. Yes, if you buy at a chain some of that money is moved out of the city, but your monetary support employs local people, who in turn use that money to shop, buy a car, pay rent and cover a mortgage.

And if you own a local business, we encourage you to source the expertise to get your digital storefront up and running. Online shopping continues to capture more and more share of the retail landscape and the pandemic has only accelerated that process. Most of your customers are already online — why not give them another option to find you?

It is a time for the community to pull together and for all of us to put our shopping dollars to work for our friends and neighbours. #ShopLocalSudbury’s editorial position is determined by an editorial board, consisting of senior members of the editorial team.


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