Sidney’s iconic 3rd Street Cafe is among the growing number of businesses on Beacon Avenue closed in the face of COVID-19. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Retail expert warns of serious consequences for Sidney because of COVID-19

Richard Talbot predicts that downtown Sidney will resemble a ‘hockey player’s mouth’

A long-time retail consultant fears for the worst for downtown retailers in Sidney as COVID-19 spreads and predicts a radically different landscape.

“When this is over, we will have to pick up the pieces and plan our downtown, because it will be like a hockey player’s mouth, with all sorts of [missing] teeth,” said Richard Talbot, president and chief executive officer of Sidney-based Talbot Consultants International Inc. Talbot can look back on four decades of consulting retailers, including every major Canadian chain.

With public health officials stressing the importance of social distancing to help stop the spread of COVID-19, restaurants will see significant drops in business, he said.

He made these 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 said retailers were already struggling before COVID-19, which will only worsen their pain, with reverberations for downtown Sidney.

RELATED: Business survey could help mitigate impacts of COVID-19 across B.C.

“I think it’s going to be extremely serious,” he said. “Unlike downtown, we have very few major retail chains, except for the [three] grocery stores, the drug store, and to a certain extent Home Hardware. But the rest are pretty well all independent. They don’t have deep pockets and most of them are working on a minimal bottom line,” he said. “We are going into this mess in pretty shaky form, and obviously, it is the poor independents, who are going to bear the brunt of it.”

The current crisis has drawn inevitable comparisons to the recession that happened after the 2008 financial crisis, but differences exist, said Talbot. “It is to a certain extent worse than that, because the economy [as a whole] is generally in good shape,” he said. Unlike 2008, the trouble did not start in the financial sector when the banks collapsed, he added.

“This is something totally out of left field,” he said. “We can weather the storm for a bit, but the trouble is, it is going to be a huge hit for not just retailers, but also small businesses.”

Sidney, he added, will always remain the regional shopping centre for the Saanich Peninsula, supplying Sidney itself, North Saanich, and northern parts of Central Saanich. “People are still going to come in to do their shopping,” said Talbot, who predicts that Sidney’s three grocery stores and five pharmacies will continue to see business.

“During this COVID period, grocery stores and drug stores obviously are going to thrive, because you still have to buy food, you still have to buy medicine,” he said. “In fact, it almost increases [business]. But do you have buy a new pair of jeans? I don’t think so.”

Talbot predicts that the COVID-19 situation represents a “huge boon” for online shopping. “What we should be seeing is that more and more retailers, who are not yet online, should be,” he said. “If retailers are dithering about moving online, they have to do it now.”

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Greater Victoria liquor stores see spike in sales amidst COVID-19

Customers are buying go-to products in larger quantities

‘Small python’ found in vacant Cook Street apartment

Snake taken to CRD Animal Shelter to be claimed

Saanich suspends penalty for late bill payments amid COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 has become a financial crisis as well as a health crisis, mayor says

Esquimalt’s Buccaneer Days cancelled due to COVID-19

The pirate-themed fair will take place in 2021

VIDEO: ‘Used gloves and masks go in the garbage,’ says irked B.C. mayor

Health officials have said single-use gloves won’t do much to curb the spread of COVID-19

POLL: Will you be able to make your rent or mortgage payment this month?

With the COVID-19 delivering a devastating blow to the global economy, and… Continue reading

COVID-19: postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Black Press Media ad sparks discussion about value of community newspapers

White Rock resident hopes front-page note shines light on revenue loss during COVID-19 crisis

53 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., four new deaths

B.C. has 498 active confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus

Nanaimo man arrested after allegedly setting house fire

Firefighters arrived to find mobile home ablaze on Barnes Road in Cedar on Thursday

Businesses advised to prepare for federal, B.C. COVID-19 assistance

Canada Revenue Agency portal expected to open next week

Dogs are property, not kids, B.C. judge tells former couple

Court decision made on competing lawsuits over Zeus and Aurora — a pit bull and pit bull cross

B.C. senior gives blood for 200th time, has ‘saved’ 600 lives

There was no cutting of cake for Harvey Rempel but he’s challenging youth to start donating blood

Most Read