As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to loom, the number of monthly business closures have doubled.
Since January 2020, Canada has been seeing an upwards trend of closures in the country. Statistics Canada found that over 88,000 businesses closed down in April alone, which is double the number of closures compared to April of the previous year. The province with the highest number of closures is Ontario, which accounted for approximately 39,000 of the country’s closures in April.
Businesses in the retail sector are among the top places that have been affected by the pandemic, having nearly 9,000 closures across Canada in April. This is approximately a 218 per cent increase from the previous year.
When the pandemic first started, fashion store Pretty Thingz was one of the many to close for two months. However, owner Rita Kanda recalls that business started picking up for them in the summer.
“We are very fortunate to be open,” Kanda said days before York Region’s December 14th lockdown. “As many rules and restrictions are introduced around certain regions we become slower.”
Though local stores like Pretty Thingz have struggled most months since the start of the pandemic, major companies like Amazon continues to be a top competitor among many businesses.
“I can definitely say that places like Walmart and Amazon are always a threat to small businesses especially now as many people want value for their money during uncertain times,” Kanda said. “I believe these larger retailers have a much stronger buying power and can offer lower and more competitive prices, it’s a one-stop shop and it’s convenient for people.”
In the third quarter of 2020, Amazon generated revenue of more than $96 billion.
“I think it’s crucial during this time to help all of our local shops and businesses,” Kanda said. “No matter what, Amazon and Walmart will survive the pandemic but many small shops who rely on the community for support will find it much more challenging to compete against the larger branded stores.”
For Kanda, she says that what separates local stores from major companies is that shopping local supports different facets of the community.
“We hire local people from the community and give them job opportunities, and with that, we are able to support local charities like 360kids,” she said. “Money kept in the community helps other businesses and the people stay strong.”
Photo: Fashion and accessories story Pretty Thingz located on Main Street Unionville.