Manitoba launches buy local campaign as shuttered businesses face tough holiday season

The Manitoba government is using its social media channels to encourage people to spend their money at local businesses on the same day it further tightens restrictions on what retailers sell as the government tries to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The new #ShopLocalMB campaign was announced on Friday. It costs $75,000, but does not include any spending on paid advertisements.

The government has enlisted Relish Branding to produce the campaign, which will highlight the stories of locally owned businesses, entrepreneurs, makers and creators. 

“These businesses have been there for us. Now we need to be there for them,” Economic Development Minister Ralph Eichler said.

The campaign does not include any money to promote the social media posts. A government advertising campaign in the summer, urging a safe reopening of the province, was criticized after cases of COVID-19 began climbing.

Delivery, pickup encouraged

The #ShopLocalMB effort will also push Manitobans to shop safely during the pandemic, which includes using delivery, pickup or drive-thru options whenever possible, provincial officials said.

The local creative firm will hire writers, photographers, designers and artists to develop the materials. 

The announcement comes as the province clamps down on business sales during the holiday shopping season. Businesses deemed to be non-essential in public health orders have already been forced to close to in-person shopping. On Friday, the province began preventing essential businesses from in-person sales of non-essential products.

Finance Minister Scott Fielding said it wasn’t contradictory to encourage spending while Manitobans are being told to stay home as much as possible.

“Absolutely not,” Fielding said. “It reinforces the ability to shop local in a safe way.

“There are ways that you can support local businesses, which is really crucial, especially in the Christmas months.”

WATCH | Manitoba restricts non-essential shopping

With cases still spiking, Manitoba has announced stiff new COVID-19 restrictions, including what officials call the toughest retail restrictions in Canada, meaning Manitobans will soon find it hard to buy anything not deemed essential. 2:27

Manitobans are encouraged to nominate a business or creator to be featured in the campaign by contacting csm@gov.mb.ca.

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