Auto shops on P.E.I. seeing early rush to get winter tires on
'COVID-19 did cancel a lot of things this year, but winter is still coming'
Auto shops on the Island are busy a little earlier than normal this fall putting on winter tires.
Some shops say the rush to book started about two and a half weeks ago.
Ernie Stanley, manager of Coast Tire in Charlottetown, said the rush may have something to do with the global pandemic.
"Never been busy so early before," he said.
Some people are still working from home and may have more time for car maintenance, Stanley said.
"I think that is some of the reason we are so busy early," he said. "People are off, they are home, not putting many miles on their car. So they are coming in earlier to get it done."
An extra person had to be hired to help with the demand, Stanley said.
"We brought on one extra fella to give us a hand to help with our warehousing."
About 40 to 50 vehicles are getting tires swapped a day — which makes up about 80 to 90 per cent of automotive work at the shop this time of year, he said.
There are protocols in place at the shop like limiting the number of people allowed inside — but customers don't seem to mind, Stanley said.
"Our customers have been great, very respectful of other people and a majority of them are probably wearing masks," he said.
Just Joes Automotive on Mt. Edward Road also has pandemic protocols in place — but co-owner Joe Sawler said it's not slowing things down.
"This is kind of our second time around with this. When COVID first started, we were doing our summer tires," Sawler said.
This is kind of our second time around with this. When COVID first started, we were doing our summer tires.- Joe Sawler
"So, we were kind of learning new things and how to social distance, stuff like that, and our customers were learning as well, but this time around everybody seems pretty familiar."
Sawler said staff wear the proper personal protective gear when required.
"COVID-19 did cancel a lot of things this year, but winter is still coming. I think people are getting prepared for it."
The business typically does about 14 cars a day at the peak of the season, Sawler said.
Both Just Joes and Coast Tire are booking about three weeks out for tire changes — and they aren't alone.
Tire shops across the Island, like Andy's Tire in Summerside and Brudenell Tire Centre in Montague, also said the season started early and things are getting busy.
All shop owners CBC News spoke with said drivers should book in before the snow starts falling so that they are not left out in the cold.