Yes this can most likely cause a debate that may never end. Here in Ontario big box stores remain open in the face of an emergency ordered lockdown These big box stores, like Costco are free in Ontario to sell what you might refer to as non essential merchandise in addition to essential items such as drugs and food. In the Province of Quebec stores such as Costco, have to cordon off non-essential items so that they are not available for purchase. This makes small retailers jump for joy as it eliminates for many of them a ferocious competitor.
Let’s say I have a shopping list that includes;
chair for work desk
windshield wiper fluid
I can make a one stop trip at Costco here in Ontario but if I were living in Quebec whike I could purchase my groceries in Costco but conceivably have to make 5 more trips to complete my shopping list. Does this make sense given the politico-medico message is “stay at home” unless absolutely essential. Of course let’s not delve into a discussion about what is “essential”! But you see what what might be one shopping trip could turn into six increasing my exposure to infection. On the other hand while my local Costco appears to be doing a good job in controlling numbers of shoppers and in social distancing at cash registers. Once you are in it is very difficult to social distance with people whizzing all over the place so could it be big box stores are in fact more dangerous than small retailers?
Of course, and perhaps regrettably so for our small businesses, is the safest option to order from Amazon, Walmart and other online retailers? Given the huge amount of Amazon boxes being delivered in my neighbourhood many neighbours are taking the “safest route”. Some of them even have their food delivered.
I would say as a small retailer barely hanging on with a rather token ability for curbside pick up I would look at a Costco parking lot and the streams of people flowing into the store I’d be mad as hell. If I can control numbers and have the right protocols why am I closed because I sell non-essential goods. We need small retailers as a driver of growth in our economy instead it all has the appearance of some orchestrated plot to wipe out the small retailers while Amazon and Costco are choking on their profits. Yes the sickening (no pun intended) side of COVID!