Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia shoppers urged to buy local, instead of from 'you know who'

Business organizations throughout the province are encouraging shoppers to buy local as pandemic measures take their toll on the Nova Scotia economy.

Some groups fear the impact of shopping with big online retailers could devastate small businesses

Spring Garden Road in Halifax is usually a magnet for holiday shoppers. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Many Nova Scotia businesses took a serious hit from the lack of tourists over the usually busy summer tourist season and now many are fearful locals are spending their dollars online with big retailers.

Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said he hopes consumers see the benefits of contributing to the local economy as the holiday season unfolds.

"I think we should look on this as our opportunity to support our community by supporting local business, by not ordering everything online from you know who," he told CBC Radio's Information Morning on Wednesday.

Communities throughout the province have launched campaigns encouraging shoppers to buy local. Savage pointed out that many local businesses offer online shopping as well, including restaurants that sell gift cards.

Jordi Morgan, Atlantic vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said the future of small businesses is dependent on what happens over the next little while. (CBC)

Jordi Morgan, vice-president Atlantic at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said the pandemic is taking a toll on businesses in Nova Scotia.

He said sales at this time of year are critical for many businesses, which regard it as a turnaround point for their year-end figures. 

The federation has conducted surveys and found that many businesses are under stress. 

"People are really feeling it's wearing on them in a serious way," Morgan told CBC Radio's Mainstreet.

"So along with the economic repercussions and worries about consumer spending and debt and staffing, and all the other things that go along with running a business, there are mental health considerations."

Morgan said he's glad the province didn't follow in the footsteps of other jurisdictions that allowed larger stores to stay open while smaller establishments had to close

He said he's hopeful the province provides greater clarity when decisions are made regarding restrictions on retail activity.

Like Savage, he also wants consumers to look at local online options rather than heading for more established internet retailers. 

"I can't emphasize how critical it is to the success of our community and our province for people to look at these local enterprises as assets, and what they can do to support the assets," he said.

Ross Jefferson of Discover Halifax, the city's destination marketing organization, wants people to see the value of local businesses to the community. (CBC)

With the city losing $900 million in tourism revenue in 2020, buying local is more vital than ever, said Ross Jefferson, CEO of Discover Halifax.

"When you do support local, we know that more of our money stays here in our community. It stays here in Atlantic Canada and it stays here in Nova Scotia," he said. 

In smaller communities like Yarmouth, the pandemic has spurred many businesses to explore new business models. 

Rick Allwright of the Yarmouth and Area Chamber of Commerce told CBC News that many businesses there have found opportunities in the current crisis. 

Yarmouth shoppers are being encouraged to pledge to spend $25 locally that they would otherwise spend on online purchases from outside the region. (Google Maps)

Some have taken their businesses online while others have begun offering delivery in order to survive.

The Yarmouth and Area Chamber of Commerce is promoting buying local though its Love Yarmouth campaign (Yarmouth & Area Chamber of Commerce/Facebook)

"There's some, even though they're not ready to be fully online stores yet, they're taking orders over the phone or taking orders even through social media channels," said Allwright. 

His organization launched a Love Yarmouth campaign earlier this year and Allwright said the plan is to keep it going throughout the holiday season. 

People supporting the campaign are asked to spend $25 in their community that they would otherwise spend with a big online retailer. 

Allwright said 250 people have already taken the pledge and he hopes more will come on board. 

The campaign is aimed at all local businesses and not just smaller, independent ones. 

"Our campaign is really about spending money locally. If that happens to be with the big box chains in town ... that's not a problem," he said.

"They're still supporting our local economy. They're still employing local people."

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Vernon Ramesar

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Vernon Ramesar is a reporter and video and radio journalist originally based in Trinidad. He now lives in Halifax.

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