No logic, much hardship in "non-essential" items ban

Quebec’s COVID-measure banning the sale of non-essential goods in retail stores has had many consequences on shoppers and stores alike. With the ban, even stores that have been deemed essential cannot sell products that are considered non-essential by the government.

The sale of non-essential items may continue, so long as the items are sold online or ordered and delivered, but may not be sold in stores. The idea is to limit physical contact as well as the number of shoppers in stores.

The government also implemented the measure in response to the unfair advantage that big box retailers have during lockdowns, but not much has changed as retail store owners need a budget to convert their stores in order to remain operational. Online only businesses normally operate out of warehouses where the overhead is significantly lower than a retail location.

Store owners, are calling on the government to react accordingly and to provide them with financial relief during the lockdown. Some can and — given the financial ability — would convert their businesses. Others who cannot, desperately need the financial support during the lockdown.

“Basically, this means either we transform our store or we close up.” Jean Pierre Gosselin, owner/operator of Liquidation JP told The Suburban. Gosselin’s store was visited by police officers approximately one hour after opening on December 26th. Police advised Gosselin adamantly that fines and potentially a full shut down of his business would ensue if he did not comply with the new regulations.

According to Gosselin, since the new regulations have been put in place, he saw a 95% drop in sales. He went from having 300 shoppers visit his store daily to 10-15 overnight. “I had 7 employees and now I have only 1.” he explained. “Many clients cannot understand why items such as hats and gloves, especially where children are concerned, are deemed non-essential. I feel so bad. We live in Canada and it is cold — does the government not realize that?” Farah Souweidan, store manager told to The Suburban, “So for families who do not have access to online shopping and need essential items to remain warm in Canada, in the winter, what is the government telling them? Too bad. Freeze?”

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