Some Nova Scotia retailers are hoping strong Christmas sales will make up for a year in which COVID-19 hammered many businesses’ bottom lines.

Halifax business professor Ed McHugh said Christmas revenue can account for more than half of a retailer’s income.

In a year where many local shops were forced to close, McHugh said the holiday season becomes critical.

“There’s a real desire out there and research showing people really want to spend local this year,” he said.

Steve Smith is the owner of Bungalow Beans. He sells coffee at the Cape Breton Farmers’ Market, but also sells coffee beans and other sweets. He said buying local is especially vital right now.

“The money that I make here in the farmers market goes back to the farmers market and it goes into my personal bank account that I spend here living in Cape Breton,” he said. “It doesn’t go to the U.S., it doesn’t go to China. It stays right here.”

Smith said shopping in person offers the best experience for both independent retailers and the consumer.

“I think if people are concerned about crowds, then shopping local is definitely the way to go,” Smith said. “The shops are smaller; you can … get fewer people in the shops.”

The Cape Breton Regional Chamber of Commerce is encouraging businesses to extend store hours over the coming weeks based on when consumers prefer shopping. CEO Kathleen Yurchesyn said studies have shown that most shopping in store happens after 6:00 p.m.

She said retailers must adapt in other ways.

“Businesses recognized that there’s many people that can’t come home for the holiday season, of course, with the Atlantic bubble,” Yurchesyn said.

Source: CBC News