Victoria, and indeed the world, continues to face the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here on Vancouver Island, we managed the health side of the pandemic with great success so far and we are starting to get the sense that things are OK. In truth, however, our local economy continues to operate with paper thin margins.
Small and medium sized businesses continue to struggle to keep their doors open. Their staff experience reduced hours while facing rent payments, groceries expenses, and other living costs.
With the end of the extremely modest tourism season, businesses need Victorians from Sooke to Sidney to support local more than ever. Let me be clear: we are not talking about businesses thriving, we are truly talking about businesses surviving.
To date, the support of local businesses by Greater Victorians have been amazing. We are so appreciative for the local love shared in the region. As we head deeper in fall and winter, that support is more critical than ever.
So, what can you do? First, continue to make downtown part of your shopping and dining routine. Make that extra effort visit your favourite downtown shops and enjoy delicious lunches and dinners with family and friends within your bubble.
When it comes to holiday shopping, please make purposeful buying decisions. Consider giving gift cards to restaurants as gifts this year. For your staff, a gift card to their favourite boutique or restaurant is a wonderful way to show your appreciation and support local businesses and their employees. For your office, plan take out meals for the office to help keep restaurants open.
Consider shopping earlier this year to inject much needed revenue into businesses immediately. If shopping online, make the effort to seek out you items from local shops. Search out your favourite store for their online offerings rather than just searching for the item in the search engine. That extra effort leads directly to keeping our family, friends, and neighbours employed through the winter season. Amazon is doing just fine, and your dollars staying in Victoria are infinitely more powerful.
This winter, discover new downtown streets, explore new restaurants or coffee shops. Make new memories for your homegrown holiday this year. Together, we can ensure that our downtown core survives and is ready to thrive when we come out of this pandemic. It may be too early for holiday decorations, but for the sake of our local businesses, now is the time to start preparing for the holidays.
– Jeff Bray is the executive director of the Downtown Victoria Business Association.