Thunder Bay – The path forward for many small businesses post-COVID is going to offer opportunities and challenges. For the retail sector, one of the challenges in Ontario will be competing against online shopping giants like Amazon.
Over the course of the pandemic, and especially over the period of the latest lockdown and stay at home order, for consumers shopping for many goods was online.
The shutdown of the retail economy for in person shopping created real opportunities for online shopping and curb-side pickup. It is likely in the post-covid economy that many consumers will want to continue to shop online and have their selections delivered to their homes, or will pick up their order curb-side.
Here in Thunder Bay with the Canada/United States Border so close many people have, for years ordered less expensive products from American companies and had them shipped to Ryden’s Border Store. The pandemic has led to a surge in online shopping, and it is possible post pandemic that people will simply continue to have their orders delivered to their door in Canada.
This Friday as the economy is being opened in Ontario, it is likely that there is going to be a surge and line-ups at many local stores as people seek to purchase products that are harder to get.
Through the pandemic we have seen two things, the price of lumber has skyrocketed. And there are many many people who during the lockdown have taken to Do-it-Yourself home improvements, local building supply stores are likely to see large line-ups starting on Friday.
Online shopping on Amazon has offered fingertip convenience, and secure home and office delivery. Local shops offering products available online now are in effect competing with the global marketplace.
Price is one factor in online shopping, consumers online have been able to search out the lowest prices, and while many consumers are likely to have no issue paying a little more for the convenience of getting it right away, it is also likely many people are not.
Small independent retail is going to face a real climb unless they are able to add value to the purchase equation.
Moving forward, post-Covid it is likely that any new shopping malls are going to see design changes that allow a business an entrance accessible to their stores. At Intercity Shopping Centre in Thunder Bay, only Sport Chek and Marshalls have that option at present, and under the Ontario rules, the shopping centre will be only able to offer curb-side pick-up for other stores.
The pandemic has been really hard on the small business sector in Thunder Bay. It is going to take real efforts and innovation to help ensure its ability to return to hoped prosperity.
Shopping local likely has never faced bigger challenges.