COVID-19 impacting downtown cores especially hard, business group says
Canadian Federation of Independent Business report states pandemic hitting downtown cores particularly hard
As the economy continues to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new report states downtown business cores are particularly struggling.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says only 62 per cent of Ontario downtown businesses are open, and 26 per cent are making normal sales.
The owner of Reg Wilkinson's Menswear in Sudbury's downtown says since he reopened, he's been seeing a slow increase in business.
"Unfortunately, it's not back up to where it was, because there's not enough going on yet," Todd Wilkinson said.
"Not the same wedding business that's happening. There's not the same consumer confidence because of the economy. And I think people are just a little bit afraid because of the different [COVID-19] spikes you're seeing across the country."
Downtown Sudbury BIA executive director Maureen Luoma says she's been hearing mixed reaction from business owners as to how the reopening is going.
"Some are very busy," she said. "Others are not. For example, the coffee shops may be in those reduced numbers, because they rely a lot on the feet on the street."
In Sault Ste. Marie, Rory Ring of the chamber of commerce says he feels people are reluctant to get out and go shopping.
"I think what you're seeing across Ontario is a high degree of reluctance to get out and participate in the Stage 3 openings," he said.
"That's having an impact on downtowns, especially those that have a high employment in their downtown areas."
He says as customers continue to stay home, some businesses are questioning whether it's worth it to open up.
Ring says it will take time for downtown cores to recover.
"Especially when you're looking at the potential of the pandemic to have a second wave," he said.
"Many of the businesses have done a great job ensuring their customers — but also their employees — are safe. But that has still not brought to market the level of confidence the consumer needs to get out and participate in the economy."
With files from Sam Juric