Red Deer resident and shopper Darlene Reid was looking for shoes at Bower Place Mall Monday. She says she understands with restrictions lifting, many people may be afraid to go out with the ongoing pandemic. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff

Getting our economy back up: Things starting to look normal in Red Deer

A business expert has noticed something he hasn’t observed in Red Deer for the past couple of months: cars parked in parking lots.

There is also more traffic on city streets, says Rick More, CEO of the Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce, pointing to a sign of positivity and normalcy.

Central Alberta still has a long way to go to get back to normal, but since the relaunch by the provincial government, things have been looking up. And it’s expected to continue, said More on Monday.

He describes the local economy as “cautiously slow, but heading in the upwards direction.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised a better awareness of shopping local, he said.

More said central Albertans know and understand that it’s the local business owners and their employees that volunteer in the community during events. They help coach local sports teams and they pay their taxes locally.

“There is a consensus: people see how important businesses are and they’re thinking more of shopping local,” he said.

He said support for local businesses has been evident during Canada Takeout Day every Wednesday, which started during the pandemic. The national campaign was started so Canadians can support their favourite restaurants during tough times when their dining areas could not be open.

“They’re not necessarily doing it because they’re lazy, or they don’t want to cook. It’s important to support restaurants, and that’s why they’re doing it. We’ve heard reports that the restaurants have done well with that campaign,” said More.

Since Stage 1 of the relaunch kicked in Thursday, retail businesses, salons and barbershops and malls are allowed to open.

More notes, not all businesses and not all restaurants are open. He explained local business owners are of two mindsets with the pandemic: some wanting to get back to normal, while others are a bit more cautious.

“And I don’t think we should be judging people on what their decisions are because we are not in their shoes,” he explained.

Shoes was exactly what Red Deer resident Darlene Reid was in the market for Monday.

The Red Deer shopper agreed not all the stores are open at the mall, but there are more stores open this week than there were last week before Stage 1 of the relaunch kicked in, and that’s a step in the right direction for the provincial economy.

“We all, as Albertans, Canadians, and people worldwide, we know our economy needs to be growing,” she said while at Bower Place mall.

“People need their jobs. People who work here (at the mall), they have to pay for their rent or their mortgages and groceries and children.”

Many of the local mall’s retail outlets, such as Hudson’s Bay were closed over the weekend. The Bay is set to reopen its stores in Alberta on Tuesday.

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