Premier Jason Kenney is encouraging Albertans to shop local, especially this Christmas, and help keep some smaller businesses in the market. He says after the challenges faced through 2020, local shoppes such as retailers and cafes can always use a boost in patronage.
“I just really encourage people, make a real effort to go out and patronize your local, especially the small businesses,” he says. “One of the things I most regret that I think we got wrong in the COVID-19 response was suspending a lot of the small businesses in the spring when we were concerned with being overwhelmed.”
Kenney adds he is hesitant to impart strict COVID-19 safety measures across the province right before the holidays, not wishing to potentially impact their sales as a result.
“The last thing I want to do is impair businesses at their most important time of the year, which is the pre-Christmas season.”
He says at the height of COVID-19 restrictions in Alberta, 85 per cent of businesses continued to be operational. Many of those that suffered or even shut their doors entirely, were small shops such as retailers and cafes which at the time were deemed non-essential.
“This was not done lightly, but the way it worked out was that stores like Costco could continue to operate because they sell groceries, Walmart because they have pharmaceuticals and they sell groceries., but little retail clothing stores, little retail jewelry stores had to shut down.”
“In retrospect, I think that was a mistake, I think we should have just given them clear guidelines about how to operate safely,” says Kenney.
Acknowledging that many Albertans still likely harbour some hesitance towards spending time in public, Kenney requests Albertans follow provincial health measures while out and about, and simply support their local fellows.
“Please go to those small, especially family-owned businesses, buy your gifts there, not online, support those local businesses. They need it.”