Orillia’s downtown core, mall, and shopping centres were packed with shoppers of all ages looking to get last-minute gifts during the last weekend before Christmas.
Jack & Maddy A Kids’ Store was may have been the busiest store in downtown Orillia as parents searched for the perfect gifts for their child. Manager Megan Murray says the store has been steady throughout the holiday season.
“We have lots of people coming in to shop local, lots of people surprised with the amount of stock we still have while everywhere else was sold out ... so it’s always a delight,” she said.
Saturday brought some much-needed snow that also helped people get into the festive spirit.
“There was a little gap there in the beginning where we had no snow, but it’s nice to have this festive sprinkling today,” she said.
The COVID-19 pandemic is still impacting local businesses such as Jack & Maddy A Kids’ Store, for better or for worse.
“We’ve had a lot more online sales, we’ve had a lot more people ordering online and then coming into the store to pick up their purchase. I would also say people are more committed this year to shopping in their local communities,” she said.
“It’s been really nice to have a committed base of customers, and it’s been really beneficial to us.”
The hottest items this year include board games, as families are at home and looking for ways to spend more time together.
“Families like doing things like playing board games or putting together a puzzle. People are spending more time with their kids,” she said.
Up the street at P.D. Murphy Jewellers, adults have been spending their hard-earned cash on Canadian diamonds. Owner John Murphy says it’s been a strong holiday season.
“It’s very encouraging with all the circumstances we are in with COVID; people are very positive and very giving this year,” he said.
Murphy was also happy to see the snow on Saturday afternoon.
“It helps get people in the spirit, it gives people a reason to get out and shop,” he said. “People still want to get out, touch, feel, and have a choice, so we’ve had lots of visitors to the store today.”
Murphy says pendants, engagement rings, and earrings are the hottest items at his store.
“Jewellery has always been a great gift to give or receive,” he said.
The Orillia Square mall was steady on Saturday afternoon as many parents brought their children in to get their photo taken with Santa.
Sylvia Iden was helping customers at her pop-up shop, which is in its second year of selling local and national artwork at the mall.
“It’s been steady so far this year, and COVID hasn’t impacted things yet,” she said.
Iden says wind spinners are the top item this holiday season for local shoppers.
“People are looking for things that are unique; people don’t want to go online, they want to shop local. That seems to be a trend this year which is good for me because everything I sell is handcrafted and locally made,” she said.
On top of shopping for fellow humans, people are also looking for gifts for their pets this holiday season. Monarch Drive Pet Value assistant manager, Crissi Clarke says the pet store is seeing a lot more sales in treats and toys during the month of December.
“People like to splurge on the pets and get them a lot of fun stuff,” she said.
Clarke says Pet Value is thankful for its loyal customers this holiday season.
“COVID hasn’t impacted us too much because of the support we receive from our customers. There were some times that weren’t very great, but it’s bounced back and I think people are just happy to be in store,” she said.
“They want to see, they want to ask questions, every customer enjoys the in-store shopping experience.”
The most sought-after item for cats has been a dancing fish toy with catnip which is currently sold out. For dogs, people are just buying mountains of toys and specialty teats, she said.