As shopping rules tighten, Montreal merchants implore customers to find a way to buy local

You can tell by the parking lot at Fairview Mall that the numbers of shoppers are up—and many of them say the rules aren’t being respected.

They’re not paying attention to arrows on the floor, said one person. People were “inching up” to the counter despite the need to distance, said another.

New rules from the government today are meant to change that by cracking down on capacity limits. While store owners said it will cut into profits, they’re also planning ways to compensate for the new hurdle -- and they're hoping their customers will do the same.

“Before, we weren’t in the full Hanukkah-Christmas season,” said Ramzi Soueida, co-owner of Kidlink toy store.

“Now we're getting into it, so a limit of ten [clients] will definitely… hamper business. So we're going to try to compensate for it by maybe opening earlier, closing later.”

December brings close to half the year’s business for many stores. Some said they were concerned that having to wait in lines will drive even more people to online sites like Amazon or big box stores like Costco.

“We know that already before this announcement 50 per cent of the holiday shopping [was] going to go online,” said retail strategist Carl Boutet.

“A large chunk of that is going to go to the big international players that don't contribute to our local economy.”

Local retailers are appealing to customers to go out of their own way to shop local.

“Just shop at different hours when it's more quiet,” said Marc Fortin of the Retail Council of Canada.

“There's a lot of Quebec retailers, Canadian retailers that are open for business on the web, so go on their website, order your order online, go pick them up at the store.”

The store owners are also looking on the bright side – many said that though the new restrictions are tough, they’re better than the alternative: a full lockdown.

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