Businesses in Yellowknife’s downtown appear to have mixed reactions on how busy it was during the holiday season.
At the Yk Centre, Cassandra Bernardo, a salesperson with For Men’s Only, the city’s main men’s clothing store, said there were about three days when it was noticeably busy for the holiday season.
“Usually November is when it starts to get a little bit busy but we noticed that from Dec. 19 to the 21 – those were probably the busiest days,” she said.
Typically the peak periods for the store come during the late spring and early summer when people are preparing for wedding season or graduation, she noted. But Christmas is usually quite active as people seek to get Christmas gifts or prepare for New Year’s.
At nearby Thanh Dat Clothing and Gifts, a woman who answered the phone but didn’t provide her name said she didn’t feel business was all that great.
“Was too slow. Very very slow year,” she said, noting that she has been at the location for 14 years. “Before Dec. 23 was okay, but after Christmas, it has been really slow.”
On nearby 49 Street, Emilie D’Aigle, a full-time clerk at Miniso Yellowknife Store, which opened May 4, said she has been pretty pleased with the traffic.
“It slowed down significantly today (Dec. 27) but it was pretty busy the last Saturday before Christmas Eve and on Christmas Eve,” D’Aigle said. “Those were probably our two busiest days, but we had a pretty good flow going for the past few weeks.”
D’Aigle said the store’s first Christmas shopping season was “a big improvement” over other weeks this year. It opened May 4.
The location makes a big difference given that it is “a high traffic” area with Shoppers Drug Mart and Black Knight Pub nearby. The big window on the street makes a big difference, she added.
“A lot of people will walk by and will do a 180 and come back in,” she said.
She noted that kid-friendly plushies continued to be popular, as are technology products like headphones.
The store isn’t necessarily dependent on Christmas, but it is an important time of year, and a bad time of year for an important shipment of products to arrive weeks late.
“We didn’t get it until about mid-November or maybe late November,” D’Aigle said. “By the time we finished unpacking everything, it was getting pretty close to Christmas. Now we have an overstock of Christmas stuff.”
Across Franklin Avenue, longtime Centre Square Mall tenant Arctic Jeweller owner Hau Huynh was also quite content with the Christmas season despite some of the conditions in the mall. He said the last few years have been good. The store opened in 1999.
“So far so good and I think it was better than last year. Just a little,” Huynh said cheerfully on Friday. “I don’t know the reason why. Christmas and people were willing to spend the money.
“I’d say it slowed down around 2011 but right after 2017 it got better and 2018 it got better.
Hopefully next year it will get better and better.”
Huynh said there have been challenges along the way as he feels his separation in 2014 may have led some to believe his store was no longer open for a few years, leading to a decline in sales. He added that the increased traffic of street people in the mall has been an ongoing obstacle.
“Years ago, you didn’t used to see it, but now there are a lot of street people – fighting and swearing and spitting on the floor,” he said. “It scares the customers.”