Alberta retailers hope for a merry holiday shopping season despite challenges

With the holiday shopping season just around the corner, many Alberta retailers are hoping for a very merry earnings season.

Nancy Nasr, owner of Think Stunning in Calgary’s Southcentre Mall, relocated her shop to the mall just this year, but she’s been in business since 2018. She’s well aware that many Alberta consumers are struggling with their finances these days.

“We are all on the same boat,” Nasr said.

Think Stunning is hoping to get shoppers to “think local” this holiday season.  All of its products are locally sourced and handmade by 28 women entrepreneurs. Nasr told Global News she believes shopping habits have shifted and shoppers are looking for something else besides mass-produced items.

“We’re trying to give customers what they need and something that is timeless,” she added. “Something that they will be able to reuse every year so they’re not just buying fast fashion.”

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“People are more conscious nowadays when it comes to deciding who to support. Where and what to buy. So that makes me really happy and gives us hope.”

Nancy Nasr of Think Stunning.

Tomasia DaSilva

Southcentre officials also have hope for the upcoming season.

Larissa Rozack, the mall’s digital product and community specialist, says Southcentre has been having one of its best years ever. She credits that to the variety of shops in the mall — referring to it as the perfect combination of local, artisan shops and big, well-known retailers.

Rozak said that mix should make for a profitable holiday season this year despite money-issues faced by many Alberta consumers.

A new survey found, despite the challenges posed by the high cost of living, Albertans are adapting by spending more conservatively. The Holiday Gift Card Survey, conducted by Givex, found that four-in-five or 80 per cent of Albertans anticipate that inflation will impact their holiday gift-giving plans. That’s up from 77 per cent in 2022 and surpassing the national average of 74 per cent.

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Albertans are also opting for gift cards as opposed to other gifts, with 79 per cent of Albertans stating that purchasing a gift card is less stressful than buying a physical gift. That’s the second-highest amongst all provinces.

However, the Better Business Bureau has a warning for those buying gift cards this holiday season. A BBB investigation found gift card scams rose by 50 per cent over the last year.

“If you’re purchasing gift cards from stores — check and make sure it’s a legitimate gift card,” the BBB’s Mary O’Sullivan-Andersen told Global News. “Ask the retailer what they’ll do and how they’ll honour it. Just slow down and ask questions and be prepared.”

Some of the key findings of the investigation included:

  • Technology, like algorithms meant to detect fraudulent behaviour, helps retailers stop scammers in their tracks and sometimes return money to customers.
  • Fraudsters leverage international networks to convince consumers to hand over gift cards.
  • Advance fee loans, government impersonation, phishing and lottery/sweepstakes top the list of scam types used most often to obtain gift cards.

“Scammers love gift cards,” O’Sullivan-Andersen said. “With this valuable information from the BBB you can learn how to mitigate the risk.”

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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