A careful, phased approach to the reopening of the economy has begun in several provinces after many businesses were effectively shut down in mid-March to prevent the spread of the potentially deadly virus.


The reopening strategy is not universal but every province is taking a different approach to this recovery, particularly when it comes to the dates of when things will start returning to a normal state of affairs – whatever that will look like in the future.

The Retail Council of Canada has a list of the reopening dates in the provinces for non-essential retailers which can be found here. Also on its website the Council has a retail recovery checklist for retailers which can be found here.

As Canadian provinces prepare to relax their COVID-19 lockdown restrictions it could be well into this summer before consumers will feel completely comfortable venturing out again for non-essential shopping and restaurant dining. A survey found that 85 percent of Canadian consumers require measures prior to resuming going out again with social distancing and increased hygiene seen as the primary drivers.

The RCC Recovery Checklists & Templates includes guidance, checklists and templates:

  1. Returning to work team checklist and action plan

  2. Employee temperature screening

  3. Employees working from home

  4. Employer occupational health & safety considerations

  5. Social distancing and sanitation for retail stores and other workplaces

  6. Sample cleaning checklists for stores and other facilities

  7. Preparing the store for opening: Facilities checklist

Four key priorities for retailers for customer health and safety:

  1. Customer screening & requirements. Manage access to the store to people who may be exposed to COVID-19, while protecting the vulnerable;

  2. Social distancing. Provide adequate space to allow customers to navigate while avoiding close proximity with others;

  3. Checkout & payment. Limit interaction during checkout and payment processes to minimize transmission risk; and

  4. Store cleanliness. Over-invest in cleaning to ensure any potential virus exposure is quickly eradicated.

Three key priorities for employee well being include:

  1. Safety procedures & protective equipment. Provide preventative and protective equipment to create a safe workplace;

  2. Supporting employees through the pandemic. Assist employees through flexibility and support programs (financial and otherwise); and

  3. Confirmed case response. Re-assure staff & customers with clear, credible communications.

A report by Deloitte said it may take months, a year, or even longer, but the world will emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumers’ behaviours may take more time to return to what they were—if they ever do.

“Expect a COVID-19 ‘hangover.’ Canadian consumers may continue to act cautiously after the pandemic subsides. People may continue to stockpile food and other supplies. Shifts in discretionary spending could be permanently changed. Consumers may also be slow to travel for leisure or business, or to return to restaurants, malls, gyms, and other public venues. They may instead choose to spend more on in-home entertainment, home offices, and fitness equipment,” said the report.

“Consumers may be open to new ideas and technologies. Consumers still seeking to reduce exposure to others may be more willing to try new technologies, such as self-checkouts, contactless payments, in-store robots, non-contact delivery options, virtual reality, and more.

“Customers may retain the habits and behaviours they adopted during the pandemic. They may continue to buy online or avail themselves of click-and-collect. They may stay loyal to new brands they discovered while searching for hard-to-find items. Older Canadians may grow more comfortable with digital channels, opening up new opportunities for retailers to reach a notoriously challenging demographic.”