For some, Christmas shopping starts early, tracking down gifts and stowing them away in nooks and crannies months prior to December. For others, it’s a last-minute escapade.
In Lethbridge, Park Place Mall is a central shopping location, with more than 100 retailers. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the building has a capacity of just under 1,300 people, and individual stores within the mall must also keep track of shoppers to meet 15 per cent capacity requirements.
“Shopping has been pretty busy,” said general manager of Games Galore, Chase Young. “With the government’s COVID restrictions, we have been limited to six people in the store at a time, but we’ve been working really hard to make sure that they are able to find items they’re looking for quickly.”
Thursday marked the last day shoppers could grab their gifts to give in time for Christmas, with people waiting in line to get everything crossed off their lists.
Young says an extremely popular item at their store this year has been puzzles, with people looking to fill spare time with something hands-on.
Despite being fairly busy leading up to the big day, Young emphasizes 2020 has been a strange year.
“We have been having a lot of people, but nothing like in years past.”
In downtown Lethbridge, a new independently-owned book store joined the retail industry just three weeks ago, with no previous sales numbers to compare this holiday season to.
Despite the pandemic, owners say it’s been “phenomenal” so far.
“We opened actually on Black Friday,” said owner of Analog Books, Penny Warris.
“The support from Lethbridge has been unbelievable. People have clearly been waiting from an independent book store.”
Warris adds while there is some worry sales will decline in the New Year, certain purchases have their hopes up.
“We’ve sold a lot of gift certificates, so we know (shoppers) will certainly by coming in the end of December and January for sure.”
In search of gifts for their little ones on Thursday, shoppers took to Mastermind Toys in north Lethbridge as well.
Aaron Kemp says he made most of his holiday purchases online this year, in an effort to avoid large crowds in-person, but had to run out to the store last-minute.
“Two of my packages weren’t going to make it on time,” he explained. “I’m finally finished now.”
Lula Turner, temporary manager at Mastermind, says their sales saw an uptick in November, and a decline in December, juxtaposing what they usually see.
“A lot of the traffic that we typically see now we definitely saw back then,” she said. “It’s definitely slowed down.”
However, Turner says their customers have been very understanding of COVID-19, and many are choosing to shop remotely for their products.
“The biggest difference we’ve seen in any kind of shopping trend this year is more people are definitely shopping and doing our buy-online pickup-in-store, and our curbside, than actually coming into store,” she said. “Other than that, things have been fairly similar.”
Park Place Mall and many other stores will be closed on Dec. 25, returning for Boxing Day sales on the weekend.
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