A coalition of about 50 retailers is calling on the Ontario government to immediately open all retail stores in the province, claiming that the COVID-19 restrictions are ineffective and putting businesses at risk of failure.

In an open letter, the retailers – which include Hudson’s Bay Co. and the Canadian units of international firms like IKEA – argue that shutting down non-essential stores in Toronto and Peel Region hasn’t reduced the number of shoppers.

Here’s what some of the retailers are saying about Ontario’s measures on BNN Bloomberg:

Online retailers within days of no longer being able to promise deliveries for Christmas: Indigo CEO

Heather Reisman, founder, chair and CEO at Indigo is one of the retail executives that signed an open letter to the Ontario government, urging the province to ease restrictions on the sector. She says the number of cases traced back to retail are not enough to justify the current lockdown measures.

“The strategy of just shutting us all down in the most important five weeks of the year after an unbelievably tough year, it’s just catastrophic. This is a catastrophic effort. And what’s’ important is, it’s not helping…. It’s causing carnage. Nothing short of carnage is being caused. We understand the pressure the premier is under, we’re all on side. But the strategy is wrong.”

“We're within days of all the delivery systems being maxed to capacity and no longer being able to promise deliveries for Christmas and so you will then have a more difficult situation. [The government has] to move and they have to move now.”

— Indigo CEO and Chair Heather Reisman

Curbside pickup only has been one giant logistical nightmare: Long & McQuade CEO

Long & McQuade CEO, Steve Long, joins BNN Bloomberg to discuss the open letter sent to Premier Doug Ford from retailers, asking to ease Covid-19 restrictions. He says that for a lot of products, in store shopping is essential.

“We’ve been in business a long time. We’re not going out of business. We’re very well capitalized … For us, our life has been a logistical nightmare: Ten provinces, different rules, capacity limits, curbside only, stores open, stores closed, close the lessons, open the lessons, close the lessons again.  It’s just been one giant logistical nightmare after another. So for us, it's really more about operational [issues]. We spent a ton of money  getting the stores ready to be safe, with closing off certain parts of the store, putting in shields between people, re-laying out the stores ... that was a big job. But to be told now that you’ve done all that, ‘That’s great, but now you have to go curbside’ – that’s pretty frustrating, for sure.”

— Long & McQuade President Steve Long

We're in a critical time of year for retail: Larry Rosen on open letter to Ontario government

Larry Rosen, CEO of Harry Rosen Inc., joins BNN Bloomberg to discuss the open letter signed by retailers to the Ontario government asking for changes to the current COVID-19 restrictions.

“The health of Ontarians is the most important thing to us, but we don't believe we've been the problem. We've been observing a lot of safety protocols and we think we've been closed down incorrectly … We'll adhere to strict protocols, but we're at a critical time of the year for retail. We've all bought our Christmas merchandise, our holiday merchandise and it's got shelf life: it only lasts a little while in the apparel business. If we don't move it now, it's going to be a financial disaster for so many retailers. Sure, our online and curbside pickup have improved, but there's so many people out there who want to feel the items, to try them on or whatever.

“December is the biggest time of the year and this is going to impact tremendously employment in the retail sector. It's going to hurt incomes ... I believe you will see in January a number of the small and large retailers will have to reorganize or go out of business.”

— Harry Rosen Inc. Chairman and CEO Larry Rosen