Christmas is coming early to a Canadian Tire in New Brunswick.
A store in Moncton has packed its aisles with Yuletide holiday products at the height of summer, replacing wicker sofas and parasols with ornaments and artificial trees after a run on outdoor furniture during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The location is essentially sold out of patio items, leading the retailer to display Christmas stock — much of it from last year — in its "seasonal" section, said manager Mary Robichaud.
"We are wiped clean when it comes to fire pits and patio furniture. Even patio umbrellas are running thin," said Robichaud. "We had no stock to put out on the floor, so we had to put something."
Typically, the shift to holiday lights and baubles begins in late autumn, not in 30 C heat waves. But as the last patio stock ran down, even floor displays were scooped up by buyers looking to enhance their backyards and balconies.
"A lot of it has to do with the COVID. A lot of people are planning on staying home for the summer, so I think the idea behind it is to kind of make your at-home living area the best it can be," Robichaud said.
The need for household comforts was particularly pointed in Atlantic Canada, where all four provinces restricted regional travel until July 3.
Canadian consumers stuck at home during lockdowns have spent more on furniture and home decor over the past three months.
The pandemic has pushed outdoor furniture sales to new heights, with purchases growing despite store shutdowns as retailers ramped up delivery and curbside pickup, said market data firm ResearchAndMarkets.com.
At Home Depot, patio products are among the areas experiencing a boost in demand since March.
"As vacations have been limited, customers are looking for new ways to spend time at home and setting up individual spaces for different activities," said Home Depot Canada spokesman Paul Berto.
Patio furniture is "very hot this season," with sales picking up "tremendously," added Dan Knox, a supervisor at a Canadian Tire in Calgary. "People seem to want to make their backyards prettier."
Back at the Mountain Road location in Moncton, the sold-out products include trampolines and outdoor play sets — with the odd result of plastic Christmas trees in the aisles amid a heat warning.
"Canadian Tire is a seasonal store. Really it’s either summer or full-on winter here," Robichaud said.
The carols are still a half-year off, but the twinkling spirit of the holidays has already entered the outlet.
"I like it. It puts you in a good mood."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 20, 2020.
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