A READER E-MAILED ME the other day questioning why a local mall has decided to extend store hours during the Christmas shopping season.
Her concern is that longer store hours will encourage more shopping, more crowding, and more spreading of COVID-19.
In fact, though, longer store hours make sense, because they will spread shoppers over a longer shopping day, actually reducing the crowding and making it easier to maintain physical distancing.
Experts think this will be a record year for online buying, where shoppers don’t have to worry about getting close to everyone else. We should all think about that carefully.
Christmas is the most profitable time of year for most retailers. Estimates of the percentage of an average store’s total annual sales brought in during the Christmas season typically range from 20 to 30 per cent or more.
Clearly, the more we shop online, the tougher it is on all those local stores that rely so heavily on bringing shoppers in during the next few weeks. These are the stores that employ us, our sons, daughters and spouses and keep the local economy ticking along.
Even the big-box franchise stores, though the profits go elsewhere, generate jobs and support community projects. So, what to do?
The experts suggest, for one thing, shopping early. Don’t wait for the super-hectic two weeks before Christmas day. Pick a time of day that’s likely to be less busy. Check out local stores that deliver. Mind all the usual protocols. Be very careful to choose stores that are doing things right, COVID-19 wise.
Calls are being heard that malls should close altogether. As we put up with endless Black Friday sales and all the usual seasonal hype, let’s keep in mind the importance of shopping local, and do everything we can to help our stores stay open first by patronizing them and second by doing so while carefully observing pandemic guidelines.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.