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Mall retailers keen on reduced holiday hours, more targeted shoppers

Evenings have typically been slow at St. Albert Centre and the reduced mall hours mean businesses don't have to spend additional funds on manning empty stores.
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Linda Grams from Caposhie, pictured here on Dec. 23, 2021, said retailers haven't seen the traffic to justify extended holiday hours. JESSICA NELSON/ST. Albert Gazette

Stores at St. Albert Centre that close at 6 p.m. the week before Christmas is not something shoppers are used to.

But some local retailers say they are happy with the change away from late nights for staff during the holidays.

Pandemic times mean shopping habits have changed and in response the mall has reduced shopping hours.

Linda Grams from Caposhie said the mall asked retailers what they would like this holiday season. 

“[The] reality is with COVID and everything that's going on, we're not seeing the traffic, and it's just an additional strain on the businesses to stay open longer hours,” said Grams.

Grams said if the traffic was there, the mall would have extended business hours.

“The mall really did take into consideration all the businesses and did ask us, and so I think they did the right thing. It's hard,” she said.

Caposhie is new to the mall. The store opened in June of this year, so Grams said they aren’t able to compare what other holiday seasons have been like.

She said the store isn't on a lot of people’s radar just yet. Stores around them have been busier because they’re on other people’s lists.

Grams said she has noticed shoppers coming in to shop with very specific lists. They’re going for those items and not spending a lot of time on other things.

Overall, Grams said the season has been positive and people have been friendly.

She has heard the odd comment about the reduced hours, but shoppers seem to understand.

“We are extended on Thursdays and Fridays. We are open seven days a week. As hard as it is there is shopping time, right?”

Sharon, a retail worker who didn't want to give her last name because she isn’t sure her employer would approve of her speaking with media, said the workers love the reduced hours because shoppers are purpose-based shopping with them.

“They're coming specifically knowing that these are the hours that the mall is open. They're coming to get the purchases rather than going into the city to get their purchases, which is nice,” she said.

Sharon said the reduced hours mean the traffic in the store is steadier.

People are coming to the mall to shop with a purpose and then spending the evenings with their families, she said.

Sharon said it has also been great to be able to spend time with her family.

“I've been in retail for 30 years, and Christmas time, I never get to see my kids, whereas now I actually get to go home, have dinner with them, spend some time in the evening with them. It's nice,” she said.

What did customers think of the reduced hours?

Kelsey Marusiak was at St. Albert Centre picking up some additional Christmas items on Dec. 23.

She said she did notice the reduced hours, but she just adjusted and shopped as she needed.

“If I had to come earlier, I came earlier,” she said.

The mall will be closing early Friday, New Year’s Eve, and will also be closed for New Year’s Day.

About the Author: Jessica Nelson

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