A retail expert believes that most Sidney residents would be prepared to pick up the slack for local retailers suffering because of COVID-19.
Richard Talbot, president and chief executive officer of Sidney-based Talbot Consultants International Inc., made that comment when asked what local residents could do to help retailers.
“From the residents’ point of view, if we had property tax relief for the commercial sector, we the residents, would have to pick up the slack, but I think most residents are prepared to do that,” he said. “I think that is one thing that could really help their bottom line.”
Talbot, who can look back on four decades of consulting retailers, made those comments as COVID-19 continued to shut down businesses, as owners closed their doors in the face of dropping demand. An informal survey of shops along Beacon Avenue found shops including Buddies Toys, 3rd Street Cafe, Bistro Suisse and Beacon Barber closed. Other businesses reduced in-person service, asked customers to contact them by email or phone, or changed delivery methods.
Talbot’s comments come among growing concerns among business owners across British Columbia.
A survey of almost 8,000 businesses by the BC Chamber of Commerce found COVID-19 has already been impacting 90 per cent of businesses across British Columbia. Of those impacted, 83 per cent have already been seeing a “drop in revenue, business, or deal flow.” Among impacted businesses, 91 per cent predict that they will see a “decrease in revenue in the near-term.”
That survey also listed five recommendations from business to governments, starting with flexibility for various tax remittances. Second on the list of recommended measures is the measure described by Talbot, a delay in property tax payments. “Work with municipalities to allow business to defer property tax payments to free up revenue,” it reads.
Other recommended measures call for financial institutions to provide zero-interest loans, lines of credit and deferred payment terms, enhanced Employment Insurance access and wage replacement options and provide funding for businesses to work remotely.
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