Reopening delays have Montreal businesses facing bankruptcy

Business (CTV News)

By CTV's Rob Lurie and Adam Kovak

 

MONTREAL -- Many of Montreal's businesses are suffering with no end to the city's lockdown in sight and bankruptcy a looming possibility.

According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, more than half of Quebec's small business owners could close entirely.

“Seventy-seven per cent of small business owners in Quebec say it's critical for them to make sales to survive the present situation,” said spokesperson Francois Vincent.


The federation called on the Quebec government to allow merchants to re-open, albeit with curbside pickup. Vincent said competition from big box stores and online retail, combined with the lockdown, is an existential threat.

“If Quebecers want to choose their local store, the store has to be open,” he said.

Among the businesses teetering on the edge is Westmount Florist. Christine Pickrell said her shop has missed multiple big events that normally are crucial for sales.

“We missed the major holiday for us, which is Passover. Easter, too, but Passover was huge for us to miss,” said Pickrell.

While Pickrell's store is taking online orders for Mothers Day, some businesses haven't survived this long. This week, Montreal's Aldo Shoes, which had been in business for almost 50 years, announced it was seeking bankruptcy protection. In a statement, the company cited COVID-19 as part of the reason for its downfall.

Veronique Saine of children's clothing store Billie Le Kid Boutique said delays to reopening have been harmful in more ways than one. Montreal's economy was schedueld to reopen next week, but that has since been pushed back to May 25. Saine said she spent more than $1,000 on plexiglass, masks and hand sanitizer in preparation for resuming business.

“I think local businesses are the colour of a city and if we are all going to close, who's going to last? H&M, Costco, Walmart. That's very sad, no?” 

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