Recent data suggests limiting store hours could help spread COVID-19, rather than hinder it


Published January 21, 2021 at 12:49 am


With the number of new COVID-19 cases rapidly reaching untenable levels, the Province has implemented stricter measures for businesses, including reducing hours.

However, recent data has indicated this could actually be counterproductive to mitigating the spread of the virus.

Recent data from INEO Tech Corp., a Canadian company that provides digital advertising, data analytics, and loss prevention solutions for retailers, indicates reducing hours creates more congestion among shoppers.

According to the company’s analysis, reducing hours creates a “COVID crunch” wherein during the last shopping hours of the day, many people congregate in stores, making it incredibly challenging to physically distance.

“Public health officials in Canada have done an amazing job managing us through the COVID crisis in the face of a large number of unknowns, one of those being what happens when retail shopping hours are restricted,” Kyle Hall, CEO of INEO, said in a news release.

“INEO now has the data which shows restricting shopping hours does not reduce the number of shoppers going to retail stores, but actually may increase risk,” he continued.

As an example, INEO shared data from a liquor store in B.C. While the store saw nearly the same number of customers on Christmas Eve as it did on New Year’s Eve (NYE), the mandated 8 p.m. closure of the store on NYE resulted in a 188 per cent increase in customer traffic shortly before closing.

“The same number of people are going to shop regardless, so when hours are restricted, this forces the stores to be busier than they normally would be in the hours they are open. Our data suggests restricting retail store hours produces situations which could increase COVID-19 transmission risks,” Hall said.

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