Shop Early, Shop Safe, Shop Local
From downtown to the Medicine Hat Mall, COVID-19 has upended Medicine Hat’s retail sector.
While the national lockdown in March sent shockwaves through the industry, more recently mandated restrictions served to further accelerate pre-existing trends – local food, authentic experiences, online shopping – that were long in the making.
Through it all, Medicine Hat's retailers have taken decisive action to limit the spread and keep on selling.
In those early days of disruptive change, many a shop owner worked overtime to launch their digital presence, thanks in part to Medicine Hat's participation in the ShopHERE program, a partnership with Google designed to help independent businesses and artists build a digital presence and minimize the economic impact of COVID-19.
At the same time, brick-and-mortar retailers took advantage of the Medicine Hat Business Innovation Grant, a $2-million fund that helped more than 140 successful applicants adapt to the new reality of physical distancing, capacity restrictions, and rapidly shifting consumer behaviours.
Coming off September’s retail rebound, additional restrictions announced have created a whole host of new uncertainties going into the most critical shopping season of the year.
The good news is that Medicine Hat’s retail sector – the city’s second-largest employment group, representing 13% of the labour force – has taken the necessary measures to ensure a safe shopping experience.
From implementing intensive cleaning protocols to offering curbside delivery, essential and non-essential retailers alike are ready and able to offer a safe shopping experience for much-needed pantry supplies to authentic, artisan products.
The bad news is that Alberta’s retail sales are projected to end the year on a serious down note, billions of dollars below 2019’s numbers. With this in mind, Invest Medicine Hat partnered with Community Futures Entre-Corp and the Medicine Hat and District Chamber of Commerce to build a multi-vendor marketplace for consumers to source and buy local called, Shop YXH.
This initiative encourages locals to shop early, shop safe, and shop local. Now, more than ever, Medicine Hat's retail sector needs your support.
About the Author: Kelli Ireland is the Marketing Specialist with Invest Medicine Hat. To view the full December 2020 Invest Medicine Hat Newsletter Retail Roundup for more about retail, online shopping and supporting local, click here. Please feel free to contact Kelli at firstname.lastname@example.org.