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B.C. storefronts preparing for 'one of the slowest' Boxing Days

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Dec 26, 2020 at 12:39 pm PDT

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With many turning online, Boxing Day shopping is taking on a whole new dynamic this year

Health protocols have been implemented at brick-and-mortar operations to keep COVID at-bay

Retail Council of Canada says once the numbers are crunched, this will likely be one of the slowest Boxing Days ever

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Boxing Day is looking different this year as shopping centres are preparing for large crowds by implementing expanded health protocols due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Greg Wilson with the Retail Council of Canada says although people are relying on online shopping this year, some are still heading to the malls.

“This will be one of the slowest boxing days, ever. I’ll be it that’s probably an excellent thing because we want people to remain safe. Both employees and customers.”

And for mall storefronts — depending on the type of business and sector — Wilson says the 26th might not be a successful as previous years since consumers seem more willing to order certain things online than others.

“Fashion, apparel and accessories have had a very tough year. And those stores tend to rely a lot on Boxing Day sales. And so it’s probably very disappointing for them,” Wilson says.

“Particularly for expensive apparel, consumers still like to go to the store and check out the product … and the impulse purchases that go along with visits to stores, that is lost and I think people are focusing on necessities, on things that make their home and life more enjoyable.”

RELATED: Boxing Day sales move online amid lockdowns, deep discounts still expected: Experts

As a result of COVID Wilson says he expects there be a number of retail stores shut down.

He adds, the difficulty is — despite the provincial eviction protection program — “if you have no sales, the wage subsidy and rent only take you so far.”

“So we see segments of retail and fashion and furniture are good examples were in several months this year, sales have been down more than 60 per cent. So in those cases, honestly, all the rent assistance and wage subsidy assistance is still going to result in a number of businesses close. Despite the government’s effort.”

But if you’re heading into the stores on Saturday, Wilson says he wants both customers and employees to remain safe and follow health orders.

“Today’s an important day for consumers to remember to be patient when they’re going to stores. There are less people but there will still be lines, particularly outside entrances,” he says.

“So it’s important to be patient. Remember that retail workers have had a tough year this year. And so I think it’s important to be kind and calm. And it’s important for everybody to behave safely to follow COVID protocols to where I’m asking, keep distance from other customers and employees.”

Meanwhile, Metrotown, the largest mall in the B.C., will be introducing a virtual lineup system, crowd monitoring, curbside pickup and exterior line ups at retailers to allow for physical distancing.

Hours at the mall have also been extended hours and increased janitorial and security personal will be onsite during peak holiday hours to assist customers and tenants.