Downtown Fredericton quiet this holiday season

With no COVID-19 restrictions, small businesses are now competing with inflation, which is making for less traffic and a change in business trends in Fredericton’s downtown core.

“Things have really changed, less people working in our offices. We’d like to see them come back,” said Bruce McCormack, the general manager of Downtown Fredericton.

Without the 11 am to 2 pm foot traffic of office workers who are still working from home, downtown Fredericton is feeling more like a ghost town these days.

“There’s definitely that impact and we definitely have that feeling of you know, people having to spend their money on food,” said Jason Sonier, at Tony’s Music Box Ltd.

“So, those big ticket items aren’t selling so quickly.”

“We’re seeing a lot more of the office parties happen a lot more or groups getting together at least more than previous years,” said Mike Babineau, the owner of RustiCo.

“Our walk-in traffic is down a little bit but I think that just goes to show people only have so much money to spend.”

While some establishments are changing how they do business, some people are leaning toward purchasing online without the huge push to shop local this year.

“I’ve done a lot of shopping online because it’s just a little bit easier and more convenient, but I do love downtown Fredericton,” said Marie-Eve Gregoire, who was in downtown Fredericton Wednesday afternoon.

People are not seeing the same push to shop local as they were throughout prior years of the pandemic and it has split the focus of their wallets.

“A little bit of downtown and a little bit online,” said Carla Saul in the capital’s downtown. “Larger items that I would prefer to have delivered and if I wanted something handcrafted then I would shop downtown.”

People say inflation has been a big factor in cutting back on spending and deal hunting. According to Statistics Canada’s latest report, the national inflation is at 6.8 per cent for November.

“If you look at provincial statistics, you’ll see New Brunswick has 7.8 per cent inflation,” said Murshed Chowdhury, a University of New Brunswick economist.

“So, we’re higher than the Canadian average and definitely it has a huge impact on individuals.”

Downtown Fredericton says some retail stores are adapting to shopper trends.

“Downtowns are very fragile,” McCormack said.

“Little things can change and make a difference, so online shopping is something that we’re seeing, we have a lot of good downtown businesses that are doing online shopping,” he said.

McCormack says there’s some issues with downtown feeling clean and safe. Due to addictions and mental health issues, he believes some people might avoid going downtown due to that.

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