On December 25 new COVID-19 restrictions came into effect in Saskatchewan, limiting the number of people in stores.
One Saskatoon store owner says he is just happy to be open on Boxing Day, which he says is his busiest sales day of the year.
“We’re just grateful to be open and have customers coming in,” Michael Napper, owner of Backside Boards, said over the phone.
“We could not be open. That would be very tough.”
He agreed to let Global News interview him in the store because he was so busy, though he said he definitely wasn’t seeing more customers than normal.
The new restrictions limit retailers, essential and non-essential, to half their regular capacity.
Napper said he maintained that number by keeping his door locked and directing customers into his store when others left. He also said a staff member accompanied shoppers to help them with their purchases so that customers wouldn’t be wandering around the store and potentially breaking physical distance limits.
“In these times every day [we’re open] helps, any day we can get sales through, helps,” he said.
He told Global News the coronavirus hasn’t been good for business.
But parking lots at large stores in Saskatoon and Regina are looking a lot like any other Boxing Day, with most spots full and lines in front of some retailers.
The restrictions limit big-box retailers with more than 20,000 square feet of space, or about 6,100 metres, to a quarter capacity.
At the Best Buy in Saskatoon’s Preston Crossing, the store was sparse, with a few dozen customers in it around noon.
General Manager Rokhan Sawar said there was still a line out front before the store opened, even if opening was delayed by an hour.
“This year we were open at 8 [a.m.]. There was, however, some modifications. We’ve allowed customers to take advantage of the curbside pickup which started at 6 a.m., but we did see a lineup starting around 7 o’clock.”
He said the company had been planning for the day a while ago, allowing customers to use the curbside pick-up option and extending Boxing Day sales and the time the store would hold purchases for customers to encourage business.
He wouldn’t say how the store was faring that day but did tell Global News it was doing better than a month ago.
“I would say our Boxing Day traffic so far that I’ve noticed is still higher compared to our Black Friday [results],” he said.
Marec Martynes is a habitual Boxing Day deal hunter and said he liked the new arrangement.