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Retailers seeing ‘Y2K’ sales surge


Following a steady stream of holiday sales, some local retailers are seeing the effects of the Christmas Day blackout—and the upcoming possibility of a “Y2K” crisis—as more and more people prepare for the worst.

“It’s already happening,” said Canadian Tire owner Ray Engelbertink.

“I normally order kerosene, hurricane lamps, candles, and lanterns and stuff like that to last me for about four months,” he noted. “I have sold my entire stock in about a week-and-a-half.”

Engelbertink said more generators are moving, especially after the two-hour outage in town late Saturday afternoon

“I don’t think this is necessarily all about ‘Y2K.’ It’s just that after Christmas, people are thinking, ‘Let’s be better prepared,’” he remarked.

Pinewood Sports, which sells Honda portable generators, saw a slight upturn in sales starting yesterday—the first day it’s been open since the Dec. 25 outage.

“We’ve noticed a little surge [Tuesday] morning,” co-owner Tom Beck said.

Although the rush could be attributed to uneasiness over “Y2K,” he thought otherwise.

“I would think it’s more due to power outages,” Beck remarked. “It gets more common to hear people considering buying a generator in the winter.

“Outages often last longer and they’re more crucial in this season.”

Still, Beck admitted fears of being left without power due to “Y2K” may have moved a few units, too “Midsummer, we had a bit of a surge, and then it levelled off,” he recalled.

Safeway manager Mike Scott predicted sales at his store most likely will only take a slight upturn this week but thought they should be well-prepared.

“We have pallets on the way that will be here by the end of the week,” he said. “It’s basically extra canned tuna, water, and other things people might want to stock up on.

“I think there will be a little push in that,” he added.

“But for the items you buy regularly, I think people will also buy a little more,” he continued, figuring that battery and candle sales also should go up.

Meanwhile, those same retailers reported a profitable Christmas.

“We had a phenomenal week last week—Sunday right through Friday,” enthused Scott. “When you go over last year’s figures, we exceeded every day.”

Scott said the store did not fall short or overstock any items since it follows sales patterns based on annual trends. But he noted they did unusually well with its variety stock, which includes toys, clocks, and other non-grocery items.

Engelbertink said though sales were a little slow to start, things certainly picked up throughout the month.

“The numbers are in, and it looks like we’re doing better than last year in all areas,” he remarked. “I’d attribute anything that’s not up to the weather.”

He noted specialty tools, like Robo-Grip pliers, were particularly popular this year, along with more unusual buys for the holiday season.

“People were buying a lot of practical, dare I say, ‘Y2K’ stuff,” he said.

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