Atlantic Canada retailers have reasons for optimism this holiday season amidst a challenging year
Holiday shopping—and retail in general—may never be the same after COVID-19. The pandemic has changed how we live, work, and shop, accelerating fundamental shifts in consumer behaviour that were already underway. This year’s holiday season is sure to be one to remember.
Deloitte’s annual holiday retail spending outlook anticipates that Canadians’ holiday spending will drop 18 percent this year. The shift to online shopping has gained even more momentum, and two out of three Canadians say they’ll start their shopping journey at Amazon this year. But there are silver linings—which is why we think the holiday season may shine more brightly in Atlantic Canada.
For one thing, the success of the Atlantic “bubble” established in early July has largely kept COVID-19 at bay. This meant we were able to open our economy more quickly than the rest of the country—and keep it open while many parts of Canada battle a second wave of the pandemic. We’ve been able to continue to socialize and go out for dinner without worrying too much about contracting the virus. Jobs are rebounding, and unemployment rates across the region have bested the national rate at several points during the recovery. The region’s residential real estate markets are on fire, as Atlantic Canadians and others decide to capitalize on our affordability and the safety of our bubble. Booming house prices have also sparked higher spending on home improvements. And the imminent arrival of rapid testing for COVID-19 could lead to the reopening of our hard-hit tourism industry.
While the closure of the US border has forced Atlantic Canadians to forgo their traditional cross-border shopping expeditions, we’ve seen campaigns arise across the region encouraging shoppers to support their local retailers in these challenging times. The success of our bubble has meant that hotels can still look forward to hosting businesses’ holiday gatherings—albeit in smaller, socially distanced forms. And Atlantic Canadians are sure to celebrate the season with friends and family, which is good news for sales of food, alcohol, and even cannabis.
Ultimately, Canadians may be spending less this season—but they’re still spending. They still want outstanding products, services, and experiences, and retailers who can deliver on those expectations while keeping customers safe and healthy will be positioned to do well in these extraordinary times.
We hope you enjoy this year’s holiday retail outlook. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
Atlantic Retail & Consumer Leader
Partner, Audit & Assurance
Join us for a 2020 Holiday Retail Outlook webinar Nov. 27.