Inflation is impacting holiday shopping this season, Winnipeg businesses say – Winnipeg

Families and businesses say they are feeling the impacts of inflation this holiday season.

For some businesses, like Harrisons Coffee Company, inflation is really impacting how many customers are seeing come through their doors.

“Our customers or potential customers don’t have as much disposable income, so they’re having to make choices between bananas or coffee with their friends,” said co-owner Al Dawson.

However, the problem for businesses is not only related to disposable income, but also the high cost of food.

“So what used to be maybe $4.50 for a raw pound of green coffee is now upwards of $7,” Dawson said.

The cost of milk has also gone up around 30 to 35 per cent in the last year, which impacts the business due to the amount of milk the coffee shop goes through, he added.

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The cost of products, shipping, and interest rates are all taking a toll, giving businesses more hurdles to face after nearly three difficult years of the pandemic and lockdowns.

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“To come out of that into this, I knew there was going to be bloodshed as a business owner, I never thought it would be an intravenous though… so it’s been killer for sure,” said Dawson.

The peak holiday season is usually a good time for business, but this year it is very different.

“For retailers, in particular, many of them say about 40 per cent of their annual sales happen in the six weeks leading up to Christmas,” said Dan Kelly, Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

“If they miss out on a good Christmas season, many small retailers are going to be in big trouble in the new year.”

Recent survey results from the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce indicate 61 per cent of businesses are stating inflation as a top concern heading into the new year.

The survey also showed 55 per cent of businesses are concerned about supply chain issues and 60 per cent are reporting having more difficulty finding employees.

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“Ultimately, a recipe for success for businesses requires two things: Staff and working capital. Both are in short supply right now. And inflation is making both that much more difficult,” said Loren Remillard, Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.

According to preliminary data from the chamber, Canadians are expecting to spend on average around $800 on their holiday shopping, which Remillard said is on par with last year but still about nine per cent below pre-pandemic numbers.

“The unfortunate thing with inflation is while you’re spending the same amount, those dollars are not going as far as they did in the past,” he said.

Due to this, people are more likely to go shopping for a bargain, which is good news for thrift stores.

Revive and Thrive is an Indigenous-led thrift store in the city that has only been open for six months, but the business is seeing a big pick-up in customers as more people are buying gifts second-hand this holiday season.

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“Our customer base went from the thrift store and the treasure seekers to this is socially needed,” said Krystal Irvin, from Revive and Thrive Wholesale.

“The stigma of giving second-hand gifts is decreasing and it’s becoming more of a necessity.”

—With files from Global News’ Marney Blunt

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