Covid 19: How Have We Done And What’s Next?
by Scott A. Sumner
The world changed for everyone recently! Not just for Thunder Bay or Canada but for the planet as a whole. What we have experienced with Covid 19 is something like never before as it has touched everyone.It is sad so many deaths have occurred across the world including Canada and our neighbour to the south.We have been pretty lucky in the Thunder Bay area with our isolation from large urban areas. In some ways it was good to be here especially during this time.I am quite impressed with the job done by our governments. Prime Minister Trudeau and his government have done virtually everything they could to try and soften the blow for Canadians.To have over 8 million people at one time receiving the CERB benefit has been a big help to many families. The wage subsidy benefit of 75% of wages has helped businesses move forward as best as possible. The loan program of $40,000 available to some small businesses is a good program.There are many other financial programs which have helped many.It is nice to see the daily press events with Canada and Ontario. Premier Doug Ford has proven to be a strong performer during Covid 19 and is very genuine in his goal of helping Ontarians. The Thunder Bay municipal government have made many good decisions to respond to Covid 19. Our government leaders have worked well together!
Recently we have talked to several business owners in Thunder Bay to see how they are doing in this new environment.The range of responses are varied. Some have done very well even better than normal times. It may be people are looking for recreational activities they can still do such as riding ATV’s or Side by Sides. Grocery sales have taken off according to one large store. People weren’t able to go to restaurants they said and that means more cooking at home. Other businesses such as auto dealers are now finding it difficult to get the inventory they need to meet normal sales targets as factories had shut down and the demand for their available inventory is high.
Of course some business has been devastated. If you are an airline or airport some have said their volume is down 90% or they may be completely shut down. Restaurants are closed or open to a small degree with take out or patio service now. Hotels might be completely shuttered or at very low occupancy levels.It must mean big losses for them as their fixed costs would remain high. Retail operations may have been totally closed or had curbside pick up only. All in all many business sectors have struggled and may continue to until the consumer comes back and feels comfortable out in the marketplace.We are lucky to have the Port of Thunder Bay which has experienced excellent results during this time. Their services are in high demand.
So what’s next? What can we expect?>It’s sort of hard to tell I think. How will the consumer react after all of this isolation protocol? Will they feel comfortable going to a restaurant, concert or movie again? Will you be able to socially distance 6 feet for the future? How will that affect the cost of doing business? Can a restaurant make it with 30% of their occupancy? If we go to a music show at the Auditorium for example can they get artists paid their normal fee with 30% of the seats sold? If you are flying to Toronto will you want to be on a packed flight. Could the airline make it on low occupancy and how will that affect ticket pricing?It is definitely somewhat unknown and will require new ways of doing things specific to your business.The best answer might be a vaccine for everyone which would allow for somewhat normalcy but even then the average person may not want to return to the old ways.
I guess as one of my friends would always say, only time will tell.