Online shopping may be the safer, more comforting alternative for shopping this year, but it has largely affected independent stores and restaurants who mostly rely on walk-ins. Local businesses have faced many struggles this year, from trying to stay open during a pandemic to competing against global giants such as Amazon. Thanks to new provincial regulations, local shops will be limited to 25 per cent capacity during what should be their busiest time of the year.
Edmonton has never shied away from supporting local businesses, so it’s ironic that some of us are gravitating towards a company that actively impacts our local economy. During the March lockdown, when everything local closed, Amazon grew bigger than ever by giving us the option to shop with just one click. It benefitted from the pain of local retail. After all, who would want to spend hours waiting in line for their products when they could just order them on Amazon? Amazon’s net worth has surpassed the GDP of Saudi Arabia.
But, let’s be honest, it’s not like Amazon desperately needs your patronage.
With everyone turning to online deliveries out of fear of catching the virus, Canada Post has been busy all year round. The high volume it’s experienced this year is anticipated to increase even more during the holiday season. Canada Post is now urging customers to post parcels as early as possible for them to be received by Christmas, otherwise to expect delays — a reasonable request, since it’s delivering up to 2 million packages in a single day. With restrictions being what they are, and delivery times being stretched out, last-second shoppers might find themselves out of luck.
Many local businesses have been forced to adapt and digitalize in the face of the pandemic, offering new options such as curbside pick-ups and free delivery just to stay afloat. Some local businesses even gave a free roll of toilet paper with each purchase. Bookstores, boutiques, music stores adapted their existing systems to offer advice and recommendations over phone or email. Bakeries and other food places installed drive-throughs. Drive-in cinema came back. All so as not to be left behind in the wake of the pandemic.
Our local stores are creative, often reflecting the diversity and culture that enriches Edmonton. Which in turn, makes Amazon redundant. So consider investing your money into what counts this Christmas, by shopping local.
And the best part of it all is, you know where the money is going.