The Executive Director of the Aldershot Village Business Improvement Area (B.I.A.) wants Aldershot residents to shop locally. Judy Worsley reports that retail operators along Plains Road have found it “very difficult” to succeed in the current covid-19 environment and now need neighbourhood support.
“Although every sector has faced its own challenges”, Worsley reports that restaurants have been particularly hard hit. “We thought that the patios would be overwhelmed. Not really.”
“The consumer is very nervous about coming back out and they don’t have much money to spend”.
Restaurants are “hanging in there”, according to Worsley but the situation remains difficult.
“The restaurants are really hit hard because take out is only 10% and when you add in the patios it goes up to 30%, but they’re still not able to run at capacity and that’s how they make their money. They’re not hiring back a lot of people”.
Other retailers are facing the same challenges. “There was a real rush when the hairdressers reopened, but it’s calmed down quite a bit. People are taking less trips to the hairdresser, the chiropractor and the massage therapist.” Worsley said she is also worried that clothing stores and travel agencies may not survive in the long run, partly because of on-line shopping. Asked if some business will fail she said “yes, absolutely”.
There are however some success stories. The Platter Company, in the White Oaks Plaza, successfully pivoted from catering events to providing gourmet take home meals and now is planning to open a second store. She said J&G Meats is also doing well since it is renowned for its customized service.
Worsley said that Plains Road businesses are fighting back and are planning an outdoor retail market on August 20th. She said that the biggest challenge remains customer confidence. “It’s not there”. She’s hoping local residents will support their local business.
Some retailers are also facing rent challenges. “We saw a lot of businesses struggling (with rent) on June 1st.” Complicating the situation is the fact that many landlords are not participating in the federal rent subsidy program. “They don’t want to be bothered with all the paper work” and according to Worsley some landlords are not even Canadian residents and simply do not care.
There are over 200 retail businesses along Plains Road.
By Rick Craven, firstname.lastname@example.org