COVID-19 and B.C flooding cause disruptions for retailers

By: Delaney O’Hara

Christmas shopping may look slightly different this year due to the ongoing pandemic and flooding in British Columbia, which has disrupted the transportation and importation of goods across Canada.

Angelica Buccini, a Red River College Polytechnic Continuing Education student, said she is concerned about shoppers following social distancing and COVID-19 restrictions given how busy malls and stores get during the holidays.

“I love shopping, so it’s hard to say I won’t go in-person, especially since a lot of local places aren’t necessarily online. If I’m going the local route, it will have to be in-person. If it is a general gift, I will likely get it online,” said Buccini, who also studies psychology at the University of Winnipeg.

People shopping at CF Polo Park in late November./DELANEY O’HARA

Last year, retailers dealt with COVID-19 restrictions that limited in-person shopping. This year, some stores may have trouble receiving or distributing merchandise because of the flooding in B.C.

With storms continuing to flood areas throughout the province, B.C. has recently extended its state of emergency and its rations on fuel and travel.

Highways, railroad tracks, and the Port of Vancouver have been forced to close, causing delays in the transportation of goods.

Rachel McKinley, the master chocolatier at Purdys Chocolatier, a Canadian business founded in B.C., said they have had challenges getting ingredients and shipping their products out.

“We have been fortunate that our solutions have helped us largely overcome the issues, and while we are navigating the current conditions, we are still very excited for the Christmas season ahead,” said McKinley.

Purdys Chocolatier has shops across Canada, and the flooding has directly impacted a few of them in B.C.

McKinley said they are always looking to improve their operations, including their responses to novel weather events. For now, they are working to support their staff and ensure that all shops are stocked with holiday treats.

“We are looking forward to a busy season full of moments of connection and joy through the power of chocolate,” said McKinley.

Buccini said that she is not too worried about supply chain issues and is planning on shopping early to ensure the gifts for everyone on her shopping list arrive in time for the holidays.

“If I go to the mall in early December and they are out of a product, I at least have a few weeks to order it or find something else.”