BLEAK FRIDAY — Part 2: Will you shop local and save businesses this Black Friday?


In our first installment of "BLEAK FRIDAY: Will you shop local and save businesses this Black Friday?" we heard from some of the business owners in our city who are pleading with the public to avoid the big box outlets and shop local this weekend.

If hearing about the potential layoffs at these small stores or the loss of income for a family wasn't enough to sway you, perhaps hearing about the devastating damage will be.

In her second part of this small business series, NEWSTALK1010's Ashley Legassic breaks down the numbers, and paints us a picture of what the impacts really will be if we keep running to our cheap and fast online retail favourites instead.

"It's make or break this year, and it sounds terribly cliche but it has never been more true."

Ryan Mallough with the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses is not trying to be dramatic, but the alarm bells are ringing, and if we all don't pitch in over Black Friday and the holiday shopping season, the number of small businesses that will have to permanently close their doors is going to be a hard pill to swallow.

"It is a make or break season, if small businesses do not have a strong holiday shopping season, there is no way they're going to survive the down months of January, February, March," Mallough says.

Rocco Rossi with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce has some devastating statistics if things don't get better.

"Roughly 25 per cent of all businesses under 20 employees do not believe they'll make it through a second lockdown," Rossi said.

Just imagine if 1 in 4 shops were to close because of the pandemic. You're walking down St. Clair West, or Dundas Street in The Junction. Every time you pass three stores there's a fourth one, boarded up, with a sign advertising its availability.

But it is so much more than just losing a storefront, Mallough says.

"Put local first, I mean I cannot stress enough that Amazon is not paying the property taxes that builds your roads or contributes to your schools," Mallough says. "They are not the name on the back of your kid's hockey sweater, they are not contributing to your local charitable causes, that is all your local, small business."

And even though retail sales have picked up significantly since the start of the pandemic much of that comes from major online retailers.

"This pandemic, we've never experienced anything like it, it's disrupted our lives and so inevitably it's disrupted retail."

BNN Bloomberg's Jon Erlichman says as devastating as the pandemic has been it's also given new opportunities to businesses, and some of them have found success.

But he says the challenge for the holiday season will be trying to bring in customers when many of us just have less money compared to last year.

"But I do think that there is a large percentage of the population that still wants to support local businesses and they want to support them for reasons that go beyond just the pricetag, so that's where the opportunity lies," Erlichman says.