The Terrace Downtown Improvement Area (TDIA) is setting its sights on Sunday shoppers and encouraging businesses to consider staying open on Sundays.
There is already a small core of businesses open on Sundays, said TDIA representative Dennis Lissimore, but TDIA would like to see that core grow.
“With the construction stuff and all of the new people coming to town, people coming in from Kitimat and Aiyansh and other places, and lots of people working now, for a lot of people the only day they have to shop is Sunday,” he said.
“We’re not going to see a huge majority of people opening on Sundays right away, that’s not going to happen. But as the economy picks up around here, there is an opportunity.”
TDIA has been doing work with Rogers Brooks International, a downtown business area consulting company, and studies cited by that body show that “about 70 per cent of all shopping is done on the weekends and after 5 o clock at night,” he said.
But with many of Terrace’s downtown businesses not open after 5 o clock or on Sundays, those shoppers are forced to big box stores. The Skeena Mall is also open on Sundays.
“We do have a core of businesses that are open now, and it’s improving,” he said. “The problem is, it’s not an open today and see a big return tomorrow sort of thing, it takes time to build up and get your customer base to know you’re open on Sundays.
But Lissimore said that while it’s a slow process, some of the businesses that have been opening on Sundays say it was becoming their second or third busiest day of the week.
“That starts to add up when you start to have some good Sundays in a row,” he said. “You know, Bechtel was bringing two or three busses of people in here, dropping them off Sunday morning and they’re basically here all day in town and very few businesses open.”
Staffing is one issue businesses note when considering opening on Sundays, he said, with a lot of the smaller businesses staffed by families who like to have the day off together.
“But that being said, there is opportunity for business on Sunday, so hopefully there’s kind of that tradeoff of people wanting to take advantage of [more shoppers in the area],” he said.
In order to encourage Sunday shopping, TDIA said it is looking into a campaign later in the spring and will be posting signage on the businesses which are open. More activities in the downtown core will also help.
“What we’re trying to do, especially through the summer months, is to start having some events downtown, maybe having buskers playing different music, to draw people downtown. We have over 1000 people at the Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning and if we can move them a couple of blocks down into town…,” he said. “But we have to have businesses that are open and lots of things going on to get them to take that couple of block walk on a nice day and come downtown.”