Despite a pandemic and the end of summer, Glecoff’s Family Store owner, Clay Glecoff, said business is going very well.

With more people staying in the County over the winter – including snowbirds staying home and cottagers escaping the city – he said traffic is significantly higher this fall.

“Based on current trends, our outlook is extremely positive,” Glecoff said. “This could potentially be our best winter we’ve ever had.”

Haliburton’s downtown businesses are expressing optimism about the holiday shopping season. Even with cancelled promotional events, Haliburton BIA administrator Angelica Ingram said there are plenty of businesses faring well.

“It’s not all bad news,” she said. “Some have seen a better year than normal because of people flocking to the Highlands more and staying.”

“We’ve seen a lot of people Christmas shopping already,” Lockside Trading Co. owner, Andrea Black, said. “A lot of locals want to do it in town.”

But Ingram said the outlook is not great for everyone. She said restaurants have had struggles, given dining restrictions.

Molly’s Bistro Bakery owner Molly McInerny said the Minden restaurant has seen less dine-in traffic, but it is faring better than the start of the pandemic. She added the restaurant has been able to do well with its takeout meal service.

“Everything’s a little different, it’s all shifting and you sort of have to pay attention to how,” McInerny said. “I’m hoping – and planning – that as far as the baker part of it, and frozen food part of it, it will be busier.”

As COVID cases spike across the province – though not in Haliburton – Ingram said there is concern about the possibility of another lockdown.

“People are a little anxious,” Glecoff said. “It doesn’t look like we’re trending the right way as far as the pandemic goes. We anticipate a possible lockdown, but until we do, it’s business as usual.”

Meanwhile, the Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce is encouraging people to shop local. It got support from all four lower-tier townships for a BuyCloseBy season running from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31.

“It was just really borne out of recognition that our businesses have never seen conditions like this, especially as we face a second wave and a potential lockdown,” chamber executive director Jennifer Locke said. “We need to support them now more than ever.”

E-Commerce site launches

Meanwhile, TechnicalitiesPlus launched the ShopCloseBuy website Nov. 5 to support local businesses in the online shopping world versus the likes of Amazon.

The site is aimed at giving a local centralized e-commerce platform. Owner Donna Enright said it launched later than hoped and currently has only 10 vendors – though one of them is the arts council which will feature multiple artists.

“Making sales online is really beneficial for business especially at Christmas,” she said. “I hate seeing all the packages coming in from Amazon and other retailers who aren’t part of our community and really want to see us try and find a way to shift that.”

She added there are still 10 subsidies available to cover start-up costs.

Locke said there has been a global awakening about the importance of shopping local.

“They’re our neighbours, they’re our friends, volunteer organizations. You know these people. There is a little bit of comfort to be had with that.”

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