‘Support local businesses’: Christmas shopping during COVID-19

With the rising threat of COVID-19 lockdowns, local businesses are worried about losing revenue during their busiest time of year. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

Rising cases coupled with the collapse of the Atlantic bubble has the New Brunswick government encouraging everyone to stay inside. But staying home poses a threat to local businesses relying on Christmas shopping revenue.

With Fredericton’s return to the orange phase on Nov. 27, many local businesses rely on curb-side pick-up and delivery, including Backstreet Records Fredericton.

Eric Hill, manager of Backstreet Records, said the store has done well despite COVID-19.

“We were worried because we wouldn’t have the foot traffic from tourism that we normally expect, but we saw a lot more local buyers,” said Hill.

He said shopping local is essential for downtown Fredericton, where many small and local businesses are located. When Frederictonians shop local, those stores will then diversify their stock and the need to shop online will naturally decline. 

“I think if you shop local, then you’re supporting the place where you live and work. You want the culture of your town to prosper,” said Hill.

Eric Hill, manager of Backstreet Records, doesn’t expect a drop in sales because he has reliable customers that always come back. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

Hill said the promise of lower prices at Amazon or Walmart is often a facade. He said he’s received Amazon Christmas lists from customers, where he noticed a considerable price discrepancy in many records.

“Pretty much across the board our prices were 20 per cent lower than Amazon’s,” said Hill.

Backstreet Records receives many orders through social media, which offers an online platform and enables contactless delivery that helps prevent the spread of COVID-19. Hill said buying online from local businesses ensures customer satisfaction because there is no concern over the quality of a product.

“Back in the beginning when we were closed for a couple of months and then coming back, I’d say the majority of our sales … obviously through that time were all social media sales,” he said.

Hill said he doesn’t expect a drop in sales because he has reliable customers that always come back.

Rhys Dixon, a fourth-year human rights St. Thomas University student, said she values shopping local to help the Fredericton economy and small business owners. 

Dixon said she always had an eye for vintage pieces. Since she was little, Dixon loved sifting through her mom’s closet to find ’80s sweaters and iconic ’90s pieces. This began Dixon’s journey of scouting out one-of-a-kind pieces from Value Village and local thrift shop Jinglers.

Fourth-year human rights student Rhys Dixon said she values shopping local to help the Fredericton economy and small business owners. (Submitted: Rhys Dixon)

With the rising popularity of vintage, Dixon has begun to purchase from local Instagram shops like Bad Bitch Thrift Club and Violet’s Nook, which sell vintage clothing, refurbished furniture and decorative pieces.

“These people who run Instagram shops have a great talent for finding things that you would usually just walk past,” said Dixon. “They will fix them up and show them on their page.” 

Dixon said she also shops vintage for the environmental and human rights benefits. In her time at university, Dixon said she’s learned of sweatshops and the impact clothing has on global warming, which pushes her to buy local and vintage when possible.

“It’s nice to support local businesses. They’re providing the opportunity to not have to go into big stores, which is another great thing.”