Corridors are empty, the shops closed, rest stops barricaded, the reopening awaited shopping centres of the metropolitan region on Friday gave the impression of a deserted town.
“We are really surprised that there is so little of the world, normally the Promenades Saint-Bruno, it is very busy and there is really not a lot of people,” says Sébastien Victory, the manager of bijouterie Lavigueur at a shopping centre on the South Shore of Montreal.
Even if the re-opening of shopping centres in the Montreal area seemed to be expected, the traffic was rather low on Friday, on that first day.
As Mr. Victory, Julie Rivard, store manager of games and toys The Tambourine at the Mail Champlain in Brossard, had “hope that there are more people for this first day” after three months of closure because of the COVID-19.
Some, like Sandra Cutrone, owner of the kiosk Nutri Nuts at Carrefour Laval are not convinced that the reopening will be profitable.
“You’re nervous. One wonders if it will be worth it “, she says.
Sandra Cutrone, Nutri Nuts, wondered if the customers would be at the rendezvous.
And the very large number of shops still closed, could there be for something, believes Mr. The Victory.
As to the Promenades Saint-Bruno, or at the Mail Champlain, many shops in the Centre of Laval, on the North Shore of Montreal, have kept their iron curtain down.
“There must be half of the shops that are always closed,” says Giselle Pelchat, saleswoman at the boutique Blue Jean located in Centre Laval.
Same situation at the Eaton Centre, in downtown Montreal. Impossible to come in and see the clothing, Reitmans or Winners, or kitchen accessories in Stokes or even art supplies at DeSerres.
The boutique soaps and body products Lush was also diving in the dark. On the door, a leaf announced the closure of 258 retail stores across Canada and the United States for an indefinite period.
Coming from Longueuil to put a hand on their products, Érica, who preferred to conceal her family name, did not hide his disappointment.
“I ordered online, but it takes me an eternity. I am told that today it was going to be my chance to buy everything I need… I hope it will open soon, ” quipped the young woman.
The shop is Featured, no other choice than to make a balance to dispose of the stocks unsold.
A lot of happy
Despite a few disappointed, the re-opening of shopping centres has made them happy.
For Rania Hisham, nothing beats a real shopping spree.
“It allows us finally to see people, to get out of the routine ! When one works from home, we don’t see one, so that’s nice, ” says the young woman, who was in the habit of shopping online.
Johanne Beaudoin, manager of The store, a Hatter in the Mail Champlain, is delighted to find his shop and says that his first day is going well.
“As it is summer, it was still a lot of people who come to buy hats “, she says.
Only downside according to some merchants, many customers are still struggling to comply with the safety instructions and distancing.
“It is sure that it is something that people are going to have to get used to, but it will come,” said Ms. Beaudoin.
–With Gabrielle Morin-Lefebvre, QMI Agency