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Second lockdown 'a punch to the gut' for small retailers

A restaurant in Toronto displays a "Take Out Only" sign on March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Another shot to the heart for small business owners in Toronto and Peel Region on Friday.

The Doug Ford government announced it’s moving the two regions into lockdown and under the ‘Grey Zone‘ in relation to the province’s COVID-19 colour-coded framework.

The new restrictions that will come into effect on Monday include the closure of all retail establishments except for essential services such as grocery stores, supermarkets, pharmacies and hardware stores.

It goes without saying that the second lockdown is a significant blow to any non-essential retailers in the regions.

The director of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Ryan Mallough, says new restrictions put small businesses in Toronto and Peel at a unsurmountable disadvantage.

“This is just an absolute punch to the gut for small businesses in Ontario.”

Mallough says that a return to the restrictions we originally saw in March gives big box retailers even more of an advantage over their smaller competitiors. It allows box stores, who remain open because they sell essential items, to continue selling all non-essential goods that some consumers may normally purchase from smaller shops.

RELATED: Residents urged not to panic buy, as lockdowns return to Toronto and Peel

Most small retailers are allowed to stay open for curbside pickup, but that still has a significant impact on their business.

Mallough says it is more crucial than ever to give your business to the local retailer. Polls show people want to buy local, but don’t always put their money where their mouth is.

“We know people want to but this year we have to back it,” says Mallough. “Your small business needs you. The fact that you can go to a Costco or Walmart and buy a TV that you cannot do at the small retailer down the street is just deeply unfair.”

To make matters worse the new restrictions come just in time for the holiday season.

“Every holiday season realistically is make or break,” says Mallough. “I know it sounds cliche, but that has never been more true than this year.”

The new restrictions in Toronto and Peel are in effect for at least 28 days, until Dec. 21.

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