COVID-19

Quebec uses online business directory to encourage consumers to buy local

Emma Jacobs Jul 30, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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Almost 20,000 businesses had signed up to be featured on the site as of June. Sebastien St-Jean/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

Quebec uses online business directory to encourage consumers to buy local

Emma Jacobs Jul 30, 2020
Almost 20,000 businesses had signed up to be featured on the site as of June. Sebastien St-Jean/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Many stores in the Canadian province of Quebec, like others around the globe, have tried to sustain themselves with online sales and pickup during the pandemic.

To help, the Quebec government announced an initiative this spring called Le Panier Bleu, or the Blue Basket. The goal is to direct people away from online retail giants like Amazon towards local products.

It’s an online directory that Pierre Fitzgibbon, minister of economy and innovation, said in a press briefing is meant to help local stores compete with online retail giants.

“When people go on Amazon, they often go there to go see what products exist. So, we want to replicate the same thing, and we want the Panier Bleu to be basically a depository for all the Quebec products that are offered by Quebec enterprises,” Fitzgibbon said.

Almost 20,000 businesses had signed up to be featured on the site as of June. The initiative also includes a marketing campaign. 

A survey conducted by a public opinion firm for the Panier Bleu found 60% of Quebec residents had heard of it and, of those, half said they’d increased their local purchasing.

The website comes at a key time, according to Francine Rodier, a marketing professor at the University of Quebec in Montreal. She said a shock like the pandemic can produce rapid changes in buying habits. And customers who get in the habit of shopping on Amazon may be hard for local stores to regain, even as they begin to open back up.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

With a slow vaccine rollout so far, how has the government changed its approach?

On Tuesday, Jan. 12, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced changes to how the federal government is distributing vaccine doses. The CDC has expanded coronavirus vaccine eligibility to everyone 65 and older, along with people with conditions that might raise their risks of complications from COVID-19. The new approach also looks to reward those states that are the most efficient by giving them more doses, but critics say that won’t address underlying problems some states are having with vaccine rollout.

What kind of help can small businesses get right now?

A new round of Paycheck Protection Program loans recently became available for pandemic-ravaged businesses. These loans don’t have to be paid back if rules are met. Right now, loans are open for first-time applicants. And the application has to go through community banking organizations — no big banks, for now, at least. This rollout is designed to help business owners who couldn’t get a PPP loan before.

What does the hiring situation in the U.S. look like as we enter the new year?

New data on job openings and postings provide a glimpse of what to expect in the job market in the coming weeks and months. This time of year typically sees a spike in hiring and job-search activity, says Jill Chapman with Insperity, a recruiting services firm. But that kind of optimistic planning for the future isn’t really the vibe these days. Job postings have been lagging on the job search site Indeed. Listings were down about 11% in December compared to a year earlier.

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