Many snowbirds won't be heading south this winter due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The closed border between Canada and the United States means people are gearing up for their first cold winter in years.

"We do miss the sunshine and the warmth," Gerdien Dykman said.

It's been 14 years since Gerdien and Gerrit Dykman last experienced a Canadian winter.

Air travel to the U.S. is allowed, but requires a 14-day self-isolation period. The Dykmans decided it was safer to put their vacation plans on ice.

"In a case like COVID, rather be close to our families than all the way in Florida," Gerdien said.

Susan Paleczny was supposed to hit the road in her travel trailer on Nov. 1.

"Heading to Texas," she said. "But that got changed."

She said snowy roads will be the worst part about staying home this winter.

Kal Tire Waterloo said snowbirds have been some of their best customers this year.

"We're seeing several every week," general manager Tiffany Moyer said.

Moyer said they've had the busiest October on record, servicing more than 150 vehicles and seeing sales increase by 30 per cent. She said all-weather tires can be a good option for people driving in different climates, including cold Canadian temperatures.

"They have that additional traction passing through those mountain passes when they're driving through October, November, coming up into the early spring," she said.

Bast Home Comfort said fireplaces are also a popular item, where seasonal sales started earlier than usual.

"We're cold until March/April," Matthew Bast with the store said. "A gas or wood-burning, even electric fireplace will help keep the chill off."

Some snowbirds said they might need those options as they plan to play it safe. They'll be spending their first Canadian winter in years indoors as much as possible.