There was holiday cheer to be had for merchants in downtown Barrie despite a challenging 2020.
Kelly McKenna, Executive Director of the Downtown Barrie Business Association (BIA) says she doesn’t know if pre-Christmas sales were on par with 2019, but she found merchants were really positive and certainly felt the spirit.
Not only were downtown businesses rocked by the pandemic, there was also the construction that closed portions of the core for lengthy periods.
McKenna says the support from the community did not go unnoticed.
Merchants reported seeing customers over the holidays who were familiar to them in the summer, but would normally go away for a vacation in the winter, who chose to stay close to home.
There was also a great uptake on the Lifeline e-gift card program.
“A lot of big corporate businesses purchased e-cards for their employees this year,” says Mckenna. “This was a great way to spread the love through the downtown.”
McKenna estimates the BIA sold almost $15,000 in gift certificates for businesses to be handing out their employees.
Southern Ontario entered a 28-day lockdown on Dec. 26, which closed stores and restaurants except for curbside pickup and takeout. This is territory the BIA had to navigate during the first lockdown last March.
This time around the BIA is working with the city to get at least eight curbside parking spots identified on Dunlop Street to make it easier for people who have ordered food or other products.
“You’ve got a quick 10-minute parking spot where you can whip in and run down to the shop, pick it up and get back in your car and be gone.”
McKenna urges the public to continue to support their downtown and to stay connected with businesses online.