In the lead up to Christmas, Burns Lake residents’ shopping patterns reflected both seasonal realities and pressures from last summer.
Customers at Woods N’ Water in late December were buying up winter sports gear, most of which had to be reordered because of high demand, store manager Paul Hilliard told Lakes District News.
Some of his top-selling items included ice fishing rods, fishing lures, guns and ammo, rain jackets, gloves, sausage stuffers and towing sleds for snowmobiles.
“It’s fantastic that people are shopping here. The people of Burns Lake are awesome,” said Hilliard.
It was a similar situation at Blu Jay Sports, where hoodies, winter jackets, hockey gear, pajamas and boots topped the list of main sellers.
“Pajamas we’ve reordered in anticipation of high sales,” said manager Jarrett Anderson.
The last four days before Christmas were Anderson’s busiest, when socks and boxer shorts comprised the last-minute gift purchases.
At Carey’s Positive Electronics pajamas, slippers, Xbox and PlayStation consoles, and iPad and Samsung tablets were the most popular items.
Customers at neighbouring shop Pharmasave bought up women’s clothing, Christmas decorations and confection, perfume and giftware like jewellery boxes.
Sales were not as strong in 2018 compared to the year before, said manager Terry Becker.
“Weather’s been great so people have been going to Prince George to do their shopping. It’s fantastic for driving and they can get better deals there,” she explained.
The wildfires of last summer are another factor for slower sales.
“More people are more cautious on how they shop because they have so much they have to do so they put their money into rebuilding and restructuring and cut back on the shopping for Christmas whereas in years before that wasn’t a thought.”
But Becker is not necessarily critical of those spending choices.
“I commend people who are trying to get themselves up and running instead of shopping.”
Wayne Brown, owner of the Process 4 Gallery art supplies shop, finds the wildfires have affected his business as well.
He still has dozens of local artists who regularly buy from his store but lamented that “people in the Lakes District area don’t have the money they used to” and he’s fearful of morewildfires in the future.
“I’ve been in business for 41 years and over the years, people are going online. Since it has taken over it has really killed small retail. Small shops like mine suffer,” he said.
Brown wishes village residents would give local businesses more of a chance.
“If people would look around in each store, they would be surprised how much stuff they would find locally.”