FDFA Executive Director Barbara Barrett, speaking at the Duty Free World Council webinar the day of the CHHB announcement, says the situation for the land border stores is “dire” and is now about survival.
“We are now at six months of the U.S./ Canadian border being closed with no indication from our sources that it will be open before the end of the year,” says Barrett.
“A good number of our stores are closed. Some are open to essential workers only, but all are experiencing revenue loss of over 90% and some at 100%. It is a dire situation here with respect to the border being closed.”
The FDFA was among the group asking for the extension of the CEWS (see above), and has been lobbying the Canadian government to help its stores survive the pandemic.
“The programs that the government came out with at the very beginning of the pandemic were very helpful, but now as other economies start to open again, these programs are starting to end. They are great for businesses that are down 10, 20, 25%, but they are just not adequate for us who are down more than 90%,” says Barrett.
“The FDFA Board and its members have worked very hard developing a duty free economic stimulus package to send to the government to work on measures to get us through this dire situation. We are focusing right now on some of the immediate measures to get us through to the border being opened again and recovery after.
“We are looking now for liquidity measures for survival. We are not looking for a handout. We are looking to survive. Land border shops are among the hardest hit businesses in Canada.”
Barrett says the FDFA is also asking for government help with inventory issues, with some products in-store about to expire.
“Inventory has been sitting in the closed stores and is coming up to expiration or best by date. We are talking to the government so the products do not go into a dumpster and we can find ways to either sell it, or at the very least, donate it.”