Category "Money"


Home sales in Canada fell for the 3rd straight month in June – National |

by BBG Hub

The Canadian Real Estate Association says home sales last month fell on a month-over-month basis for the third straight month as the market continued to slow after hitting an all-time record in March.

The association says home sales were down 8.4 per cent month-over-month in June, as sales cooled in 80 per cent of all local markets.

However, compared with a year ago, sales in June rose 13.6 per cent to set a new record for the month.

Click to play video: 'What a developer’s plan to buy $1B in homes could mean for Canada’s housing market'

What a developer’s plan to buy $1B in homes could mean for Canada’s housing market

What a developer’s plan to buy $1B in homes could mean for Canada’s housing market – Jun 15, 2021

CREA chair Cliff Stevenson says while there is still a lot of activity in many markets across Canada, things have noticeably calmed down in the last few months.

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The number of newly listed homes edged up 0.7 per cent in June compared with May.

CREA says the actual national average price of a home sold in June was a little over $679,000, up 25.9 per cent compared with a year ago.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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Goodfood reports record third quarter revenue amid growing grocery selection

by BBG Hub

Goodfood Market Corp. reported a net loss of $2 million despite revenue rising to a record $107.8 million in its third quarter, a 24 per cent increase compared with a year ago at the start of the pandemic.

Goodfood CEO Jonathan Ferrari said the results were strong given the same quarter in 2020 had been positively impacted by pandemic demand.

“Our impressive third quarter results reflected the benefits of our leading and differentiated ready-to-cook offering, growing grocery selection and same-day fulfilment capabilities in key markets,” he said in a statement Wednesday.

Click to play video: 'The sometimes-hidden costs of grocery shopping online'

The sometimes-hidden costs of grocery shopping online

The sometimes-hidden costs of grocery shopping online – Apr 22, 2021

Those improvements drove larger basket sizes and higher order frequency from increasingly loyal customers, Ferrari said.

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But the online grocery company’s positive growth continued to be impacted by investments in people, processes and technology, he said.

The Montreal-based online grocery and meal kit company said its loss amounted to three cents per diluted share for the quarter ended May 31.

The result compared with a profit of nearly $2.8 million or five cents per diluted share on $86.6 million in revenue in its third quarter last year.

Goodfood announced last month the lease of its first tech-enabled fulfilment centre in Ottawa with automation capable of delivering 4,000 products on a same-day basis.

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Grocery work shifting amid increasing automation and online sales, Ontario report finds

“I am pleased with the progress we continue to make as evidenced by the expansion to 970 grocery products, the launch of the new Goodfood mobile application, and the recent announcement of our first local fulfilment centre in Ottawa, which will allow us to offer same-day delivery in a third major Canadian market,” Ferrari said.

Meanwhile, the company said a decrease in incentives and credits used to encourage consumers to try Goodfood’s meal kits contributed to higher revenue.

Goodfood also said its automated fulfilment centres and improvements to its “last-mile delivery capabilities” helped lower shipping and other production costs.

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Click to play video: 'Study shows independent grocers seeing growth during COVID-19 pandemic'

Study shows independent grocers seeing growth during COVID-19 pandemic

Study shows independent grocers seeing growth during COVID-19 pandemic – Jun 28, 2021

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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Home Depot sales jump 31% as pandemic-fuelled demand remains

by BBG Hub

Home Depot Inc on Tuesday reported a bigger-than-expected 31 per cent jump in quarterly same-store sales, allaying concerns that the top U.S. home improvement chain would see pandemic-fuelled demand easing as vaccinations gather steam.

The company’s stock rose 2.2 per cent in pre-market trading, set to add to the nearly 33 per cent gain from the last 12 months when sales surged due to stuck-at-home Americans spending more to upgrade their living spaces.

Home Depot also benefited from builders and contractors rushing back to stores to get through a backlog of projects put on pause during the pandemic, as well as consumer confidence in the strength of the U.S. housing market.

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The median existing house price surged a record 17.2 per cent in March, while U.S. homebuilding jumped to nearly a 15-year high.

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“Given the heady performance of last quarter it would have been tempting to say that Home Depot had reached its peak. However, as this morning’s numbers show, Home Depot is still climbing,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData.

Saunders said a fresh round of government stimulus was “the icing on the cake” for the quarter, but warned this level of growth is unlikely to repeat in the second quarter as consumer spending turns to other activities such as travel.

Same-store sales growth was expected to slow in the first quarter to 19.9 per cent from 24.5 per cent in the prior three-month period, as more Americans get inoculated, virus restrictions ease and outdoor activities resume.

Sky-rocketing prices of lumber, which made up nearly nine per cent of Home Depot’s total sales last year, are also expected to have boosted sales in the first quarter.

Overall net sales jumped 32.7 per cent to US$37.50 billion, beating estimates of US$34.96 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The company’s net earnings of US$3.86 per share, topping estimates of US$3.08.

Shares of rival Lowe’s Cos Inc, scheduled to report first-quarter results on Wednesday, were up 1.5 per cent.

(Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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Consumers expect to return to pre-COVID-19 spending within a year: Bank of Canada – National

by BBG Hub

Canadian household spending will eclipse earnings in the coming months as vaccinations increase and uncertainty from the pandemic recedes, the Bank of Canada said in a report released Monday.

The central bank says the gap between spending and wage expectations has never been so wide in its quarterly survey of consumer expectations.

Officials at the bank suggest that gap is likely the result of households intending to spend some of the billions in savings built up during the pandemic, either because they cancelled purchases or had no place to spend the money due to restrictions on travel and dining out.

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As the survey says, respondents anticipated spending more than one-third of extra savings from the pandemic over the next two years, and one-tenth to pay down debt.

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The survey released Monday morning says consumers expect their spending patterns to return to normal in about one year, with post-vaccination increases on a wide range of goods, especially travel and social activities.

Overall, 75 per cent of respondents said they planned to get vaccinated, a further five per cent said they already had a first dose

Click to play video: 'Bank of Canada puts money on consumer spending for pandemic recovery'

Bank of Canada puts money on consumer spending for pandemic recovery

Bank of Canada puts money on consumer spending for pandemic recovery – Oct 28, 2020

, and the remaining 20 per cent either were unsure or didn’t plan to get vaccinated.

The arrival of vaccines appears to have led to growing optimism, as more respondents expected a return to pre-pandemic life than in previous surveys over the past year.

Still, consumers expect the economic recovery from COVID-19 to be slow and the threat of the virus to diminish no earlier than in the second half of the year.

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Workers said they didn’t expect a return to a normal work schedule for another eight months, which is three months later than responses from the last iteration of the survey in the fourth quarter of 2020.

There was a split, though, in how people viewed the coming months as women and lower-income households expect a slower recovery than men and households with higher income, which the bank said could reflect the uneven impact the pandemic has had in the economy.

There was also a split in the outlook for businesses.

Many high-contact services that remain the most affected by public health restrictions like tourism and pockets of the retail sector don’t expect to see sales return to pre-pandemic levels in the next 12 months.

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Meanwhile, those selling goods most wanted by consumers working from or furnishing their homes _ construction services, appliance sellers – and business service providers are all seeing stronger demand. Many plan to invest in productivity-boosting technology such as automating tasks or consumer-facing digital platforms to meet rising demand, or software and servers to tap into distant pools of remote workers.

Overall, the bank says many firms see the impacts of the pandemic on their activities to be behind them, and many don’t seem preoccupied with pandemic-related uncertainty.

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And that means they expect to raise prices faster than they have over the last 12 months owing to rising demand and a desire to rebuild margins.

Click to play video: 'Expert weights in on Canadians spending big throughout COVID-19 pandemic on self-care'

Expert weights in on Canadians spending big throughout COVID-19 pandemic on self-care

Expert weights in on Canadians spending big throughout COVID-19 pandemic on self-care – Mar 31, 2021

Over half of the approximately 100 firms surveyed by the bank between mid-February and early March – roughly the same time period as the consumer survey – expect inflation to be above the central bank’s two-per-cent target over the next two years, pointing to strong consumer demand along with a promise of low interest rates from the central bank and up to $100 billion in stimulus from the federal government.

For consumers, respondents in that survey told the bank they expect inflation to stay close to or just above the central bank’s target.

Consumers believe that inflation has hovered around two per cent over the last year, even as official measures point to far more muted price increases. Annual inflation in February hit 1.1 per cent, marking a pandemic-era high.

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Statistics Canada’s consumer price index has been affected over the last 12 months as consumers spent more on items that don’t weigh as much in the calculation, and less on things that weigh more in the index.

In a numbers experiment aided by the Bank of Canada, the statistics office reported Monday that annual inflation would have been roughly four-tenths of a percentage point higher in each of the last six months when adjusting for changing spending habits.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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Here’s how home prices compare to incomes across Canada

by BBG Hub

There’s a simple yardstick in personal finance about purchasing a home: buyers should aim for a property priced at four times their income or less. But average Canadians’ ability to stick to that simple rule is rapidly fading across much of the country as property values continue to soar.

In the pandemic-linked housing boom, average residential property values have become decoupled from average incomes over vast swathes of the country.

Here’s a look at average incomes relative to average home prices across markets over the last 40 years.

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National statistics show the average national home price is now more than seven times the average household income, according to data from the Canadian Real Estate Association and Statistics Canada.

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The average home price isn’t a perfect measure of what homebuyers are facing in the real world, as the metric can be swayed by variations in types of homes sold in a given period. Still, the numbers provide a stark picture of how rapidly affordability is eroding.

For more than a decade, home prices growing much faster than incomes was an issue largely limited to Vancouver and Toronto, two of the country’s priciest and most active real estate markets.

Click to play video: 'Navigating Canada’s hot real estate market'

Navigating Canada’s hot real estate market

Navigating Canada’s hot real estate market

In Greater Vancouver, the average price of a home was close to 12 times the average local income in 2016, according to data from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and Statistics Canada.

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That ratio came down a couple of notches following the implementation of provincial and federal measures aimed at cooling the housing market between the second half of 2016 and 2018. But amid the pandemic real estate frenzy, it has been growing again, the numbers show.

In Toronto, the average home price was hovering around eight times the average local household income pre-pandemic. Now, it has reached 10 times the average Torontonian income.

But the current housing extravaganza is dramatically widening the gap between home prices and incomes in a number of markets across Canada, the data shows.

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In Ottawa and Montreal, for example, the average home price is now around six times local household incomes.


In Moncton, N.B., homes are still relatively affordable, but the recent jump in home prices is remarkable. In 2019, the average local home price was an eminently reasonable 2.5 times the average household provincial income. Now, an average-priced home is worth 3.5 times the average income.

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The jump has been more pronounced in some of Canada’s smaller communities. In February, BMO economist Sal Guatieri noted that in Woodstock, Ont., the benchmark home price had risen “a cool” $118,200 over the previous 12 months, more than the $86,970 the median local family earned in 2018.

“We’re in a very unusual period now,” Guatieri told Global News. “You make more money sleeping in your home than working in it.”

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Even in Alberta, where the housing market has been dormant for years, activity is heating up. This year, Calgary saw its best March in terms of sales volumes since 2007.

The benchmark home price, at $441,900, was more than six per cent higher than last year’s levels, although property values remain below their 2014 highs, the Calgary Real Estate Board said.

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Comparing home prices to incomes isn’t the only way to gauge affordability. Another important aspect of it is the relative size of mortgage payments. What percentage of their monthly income do homeowners with average earnings have to spend on their mortgage for an average-priced home?

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Behold, the Canadian condo market joins the COVID-19 real estate frenzy

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In the 1980s, for example, homeowners were easily spending a whopping 50 per cent of their incomes on mortgage payments due to double-digit mortgage rates, notes Diana Petramala, senior economist at the Centre for Urban Research and Land Development at Ryerson University.

In 2020, thanks to the pandemic-driven drop in interest rates, the ratio between mortgage payments and incomes dropped to the lowest it had been since 2014, she adds.

“In large part, the frenzy we’re seeing in buying can be explained by low interest rates,” she says.

Now, though, prices have risen so much they’ve eroded the affordability gains from extra-cheap borrowing, she adds.

And for recent homebuyers, the question is what happens as interest rates rise from record lows.

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“Households are more sensitive than they ever have been in the past to even small increases in interest rates,” Petramala says.

The question, Petramala says, is what will happen when many homeowners who bought in the current boom renew their mortgages five years from now.

“Even if households are paying down their equity over the next five years, if interest rates were to (climb) by one to two percentage points in (over that period), when it comes time to renew, many households who are buying now will ultimately see their mortgage payments increase,” she adds.

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Andif families are house poor … that’s money that they’re not spending on restaurants and vacations and in stores,” says Mike Moffatt, senior director of policy and innovation at the Smart Prosperity Institute.

Click to play video: 'What’s driving Toronto’s hot housing market? A real estate expert breaks it down'

What’s driving Toronto’s hot housing market? A real estate expert breaks it down

What’s driving Toronto’s hot housing market? A real estate expert breaks it down – Mar 9, 2021

“What happens in the housing market matters and can easily spill over to the broader economy,” he adds.

The mortgage stress test, which Ottawa rolled out in two phases in 2017 and 2018, helps reduce the risk of higher borrowing costs. The test means federally regulated lenders must vet buyers’ finances to ensure they’d still be able to make mortgage payments with a higher interest rate.

But even stress-tested homeowners might feel the pinch from higher borrowing costs, Petramala says. And not all recent homebuyers had to go through the stress test, which isn’t mandatory for all lenders, Petramala notes.

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What’s next for home prices?

The dizzying pace of home price growth in the past several months isquite unusual and it’s certainly unsustainable in the long run,” says Guatieri.

At some point, he adds, something will have to give. Likely, home prices will flatten out for possibly several years, allowing incomes to gradually make up some of the ground lost.

But if the current breakneck appreciation continues, “then we’re going to get into a situation where it’s almost a necessity that house prices actually fall to restore order and balance in the housing market,” Guatieri says.

The risk of a housing bust is higher in some of the smaller communities that have seen steep price appreciation, Moffatt says.

In the larger urban centres, even if home prices were to fall, they would eventually bounce back thanks to fresh housing demand stemming from population growth, Moffatt says. But in smaller towns that have seen property values climb without sustained population growth, “you could have a house price crash and never see that demand come back,” he says.

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And that’s going to be very problematic for people who bought at the top … and never see those home prices go back up again,” he says.

Charts methodology: The charts show the ratio of average home prices to average incomes. Average home prices do not take into account variations in the types of homes being sold. For incomes, we used the total before tax average income for economic families and persons not in an economic family. For the years 2020 and 2021, we assumed income growth based on the average pace of income growth between 2016 and 2019. Both home prices and income data are in 2019 dollars. 

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Here’s where Walmart is closing six stores in Canada

by BBG Hub

Walmart Canada is closing six stores and spending $500 million to upgrade more than half its remaining locations in a bid to improve the “look and feel” of its stores and enhance its online business.

The chain says it’s closing three stores in Ontario (Mississauga, Hamilton, and Kitchener), two in Alberta (Calgary and Edmonton) and one in Newfoundland and Labrador (St. John’s).

The Mississauga, Ont., based retailer says workers will be offered positions at nearby stores as each of the impacted locations is in a market that is already served by other Walmart stores.

Meanwhile, Walmart Canada says the record $500 million investment will see improvements in more than 60 per cent of its stores including upgrades to lighting, repairs, paint and new signage as well as improvements to staff lounges.

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The company also says the investment includes the launch of the retailer’s first automated market fulfilment centre inside the Scarborough West Walmart Supercentre.

Construction has already started on the operation, which will see automated online grocery picking and dispensing and automated kiosks that will serve as vending machines for online grocery orders, the company said.

The company is also revamping the layout of select stores, improving the pickup spaces for online orders in its highest e-commerce volume stores and converting stores in Calgary and Kitchener, Ont., to supercentres.

The upgrades this year are part of the retailer’s planned $3.5-billion investment to improve online and in-store shopping over the next five years.

Horacio Barbeito, president and CEO of Walmart Canada, says the company is on a mission to modernize all aspects of its business with a focus on stores and serving customers “in more omnichannel ways.”

The specific store closures are:

  • County Fair location in Hamilton
  • Malton, Ont.
  • Kitchener East
  • Deer Valley location in Calgary
  • Abbotsfield location in Edmonton
  • St. John’s South, Nfld.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Ontario’s big-box stores immune to new restrictions'

Coronavirus: Ontario’s big-box stores immune to new restrictions

Coronavirus: Ontario’s big-box stores immune to new restrictions – Jan 12, 2021

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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How the COVID-19 pandemic left lifelong scars on the global job market – National

by BBG Hub

Esther Montanez’s housecleaning job at the Hilton Back Bay in Boston was a lifeline for her, a 31-year-old single mother with a 5-year-old son.

The pay was steady and solid — enough to pay her bills and still have money left over to sock away for a savings account for her child. Montanez liked her co-workers and felt pride in her work.

But when the viral pandemic slammed violently into the U.S. economy a year ago, igniting a devastating recession, it swept away her job, along with many tens of millions of others. Since then, in desperation, Montanez has siphoned away money from her son’s savings to help meet expenses. At Christmas, she turned to charities to provide presents for him. For now, she’s getting by on unemployment aid and, for the first time, has applied for food stamps.

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“The truth is, I want my job back,” said Montanez, who has banded with her former colleagues and worked through their union to press the hotel to reinstate their jobs.

Getting it back could prove a struggle for her, along with millions of other unemployed people around the world. Even as viral vaccines increasingly promise a return to something close to normal life, the coronavirus seems sure to leave permanent scars on the job market. At least 30% of the U.S. jobs lost to the pandemic aren’t expected to come back — a sizable proportion of them at employers that require face-to-face contact with consumers: Hotels, restaurants, retailers, entertainment venues.

The threat to workers in those occupations, many of them low-wage earners, marks a sharp reversal from the 2008-2009 Great Recession, when middle- and higher-wage construction, factory, office and financial services workers bore the brunt of job losses.

No one knows exactly what the job market will look like when the virus finally ends its rampage.

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Suncor Energy says it will cut 10 to 15 per cent of its workforce over next 18 months

Suncor Energy says it will cut 10 to 15 per cent of its workforce over next 18 months – Oct 2, 2020

Will consumers feel confident enough to return in significant numbers to restaurants, bars, movie theaters and shops, allowing those decimated businesses to employ as many people as they did before?

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How much will white-collar professionals continue to work from home, leaving downtown business districts all but empty during the week?

Will business travel fully rebound now that companies have seen the ease with which co-workers can collaborate on video platforms at far less cost?

“Jobs are changing — industries are changing,” said Loretta Penn, chair of the Virginia Ready Initiative, which helps workers develop new skills and find new jobs. “We’re creating a new normal every day.’’

The habits that people have grown accustomed to in the pandemic — working, shopping, eating and enjoying entertainment from home — could prove permanent for many. Though these trends predated the virus, the pandemic accelerated them. Depending on how widely such habits stick, demand for waiters, cashiers, front-desk clerks and ticket takers may never regain its previous highs.

The consultancy McKinsey & Co. estimates that the United States will lose 4.3 million jobs in customer and food service in the next decade.

In a study, José María Barrero of Mexico’s ITAM Business School, Nick Bloom of Stanford University and Steven Davis of the University of Chicago concluded that 32% to 42% of COVID-induced layoffs will be permanent.

The U.S. Labor Department, too, has tried to estimate the pandemic’s likely impact on the job market. Before taking the pandemic into account, the department last year projected that U.S. jobs would grow 3.7% between 2019 and 2019.

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Last month, it estimated that if the outbreak’s lasting economic effects were limited mainly to increased work from home, job growth over the 10 years would slow to 2.9%.

But if the pandemic exerts a deeper, longer-lasting impact — with many consumers going less frequently to restaurants, movie theaters and shopping centers — job growth would slow to just 1.9%, the department predicted. In that worst-case scenario, the department estimated, employment would tumble 13% for waiters and waitresses, 14% for bartenders, 16% for fast food cooks and 22% for hotel desk clerks.

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The coronavirus recession has been especially cruel, victimizing people at the bottom of the pay scale. Lael Brainard, one of the Federal Reserve’s governors, said last month that the poorest 25% of American workers were facing “Depression-era rates of unemployment of around 23%” in mid-January — nearly quadruple the national jobless rate.

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The Fed also reported last month that employment in the lowest-paid jobs was running 20% below pre-pandemic levels. For the highest-paying jobs, by contrast, the shortfall was just 5%.

Services workers had long been thought to be safe from the threats that menaced factory employment: Foreign competition and automation. But more and more, as employers have sought to save money in a time of uncertainty and to promote social distancing in the workplace, machines are reaching beyond the factory floor and into retail, restaurants and hotels.

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Tamura Jamison, for instance, came back to a changed job when she was recalled to work in June as a front desk agent at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, owned by Caesars Entertainment. Her hours were cut from 40 to about 32 a week, resulting in a pay cut of about $700 a month.

Just 26 of 45 workers on her team were brought back. Existing self-service kiosks used to be optional for guests checking in. No longer, Now, agents must direct guests to the kiosks and intervene only if needed. That means fewer commissions for room upgrades; guests can request them on their own.

As a union shop steward, Jamison knows that her missing colleagues won’t likely be recalled.

“At this point,” she said, “they have to move on with their lives.”

Jamison wonders whether the front desk operation will eventually be eliminated altogether, the jobs lost to automation. Guests, she notes, will soon have keys on their smartphones, allowing them to go directly to their rooms.

“This is the start of a new Vegas,” Jamison said. “The front desk doesn’t really have to be there. There are ways to eliminate our jobs.”

Click to play video 'COVID-19 pandemic wreaks havoc on Quebec job market'

COVID-19 pandemic wreaks havoc on Quebec job market

COVID-19 pandemic wreaks havoc on Quebec job market – Aug 11, 2020

In a study out last month, Stefania Albanesi of the University of Pittsburgh and Jiyeon Kim of the Korea Development Institute warned that in a world still fearful of the virus or of other health threats, many companies could replace employees with machines rather than redesign workspaces to facilitate social distancing and reduce the threat of infection.

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The services occupations that have absorbed the biggest job losses, they say, “have high susceptibility to automation.” That “raises the prospect that as the economy recovers, at least some of the jobs lost may not be reinstated.’’

Few places have been hurt more ruinously by the pandemic than Las Vegas, whose economy is powered by out-of-town visitors and live entertainment. Until 12 months ago, Sharon Beza was among 283,000 workers in the city’s tourism and hospitality field. She had worked as a cocktail waitress at Eastside Cannery hotel-casino from the time it opened in 2008 to the day she was furloughed a year ago. Over the summer, her job was eliminated.

Now a part-time cashier at an Albertsons grocery store, Beza is still seeking full-time work in the restaurant industry, which employed her for 37 years. She’s holding out hope that Las Vegas will rebound and tourists will return to restaurants, hotels and casinos. But it may be impossible, she knows, for laid-off workers like her to land jobs that offer the kinds of solid wages, tips and benefits they used to enjoy.

In Europe, government jobs programs have prevented a devastating spike in unemployment. Unemployment in January was 8.1%, up only modestly from 7.4% a year earlier. Yet an economic reckoning has begun, with companies in the worst-hit sectors envisioning years of reduced demand.

Consider commercial airlines. Lufthansa’s workforce shrank from 138,000 to 110,000 in 2020. British Airways plans to cut 12,000 jobs from its 42,000-strong workforce. UK-based regional airline Flybe took 2,000 jobs with it when it collapsed a year ago.

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Germany’s hotel and restaurant association says that despite government support to help maintain payrolls, employment sank from 2.45 million pre-pandemic to 2.09 million. Holger Schaefer, a labor economist at the German Economic Institute in Cologne, suggested that behavioral changes — more digital meetings, for example, and less business travel — would result in permanent job losses in some companies.

By contrast, some other sectors of the economy should benefit from pent-up demand once the virus is defeated. Schaefer is optimistic about restaurants, for one.

“There is a fundamental demand for such services,” he said. “I can’t imagine that when everyone is vaccinated and it’s safe, that there will still be problems in that area.”

Around the world in the Chinese city of Xuzhou, northwest of Shanghai, Guan Li, a convenience store owner, said he hired four out-of-work relatives but had to lay them off after sales fell by half. Now, he and his wife run the shop themselves.

“People just don’t want to buy,” he said. Guan, who is close to 60, and his wife plan to retire because the shop’s income may no longer cover their costs. Owners of two similar shops nearby also plan to close, he said.

In Egypt, Mohammed Gamal used to earn a decent living working six days a week at a café in Giza, twin city of Cairo. But pandemic restrictions and dwindling business shrank his workweek and slashed his income by more than half. It didn’t help when the government banned “sheesha,” the hookah water pipe that’s popular across the Middle East and is a major moneymaker for cafes.

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In mid-2020, he sent his wife and two children back to his parents’ house in Beni Mazar, south of Cairo. Now, he shares a room with a friend to save on rent.

“I just work three days a week, and this is not enough even for a single person,” said Gamal, 31.

In Mexico City, Gerardo González, wearing a suit, a black mask and a plastic face shield, waited recently on the sidewalk outside the delivery service Didi. He had hoped to find work a month after he lost his job at a bakery where he did cleaning and displayed merchandise,

He’s applied for jobs at five companies.

“I can’t get anything,” said González, 51, who supports his wife and two young children. To meet his family’s expenses, he’s burned through his savings.

“We hope that with the vaccine, things will start going back to normal,” he said.

Melinda Harmon lost a job she loved as a bartender at Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum last year. First, she found work as a health care aide for $9.25 an hour. Even after receiving a raise to $10, she struggled to support her two sons. Frustrated, she resigned and took on a new job as a security guard for $12 an hour. She’s been switching off lights to save money for electricity and has had to delay haircuts for her two beloved Pomeranians.

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Click to play video 'WestJet executive calls for federal support after company slashed flights and jobs'

WestJet executive calls for federal support after company slashed flights and jobs

WestJet executive calls for federal support after company slashed flights and jobs – Oct 14, 2020

Yet she remains optimistic that the Fiserv Forum will reopen and that she will one day be mixing drinks for Bucks fans again.

“I do believe things will go back,” said Harmon, 39.

In New York, Bill Zanker is also envisioning a comeback after being forced to close his luxury gym, Grit Bxng. He’s raising money to launch an at-home fitness business in the fall, which will mean eventually hiring to support a online business, including customer service and supply specialists.

Still, Zanker is hopeful that his Manhattan gym, known for its cocktail bar and backed by billionaire Tony Robbins and others, will eventually come roaring back. Before the pandemic forced its closure, Zanker said, classes would be booked for the entire week within two hours each Monday morning. With the bar typically packed, he had been on the verge of opening a second location.

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“There is so much pent-up demand,” Zanker said. “People after class are going to want to hang out and socialize. It’s like after Prohibition: Party like there’s no tomorrow.”

However things shake out, the pandemic disruption to the job market will likely require millions of workers to find new careers. Reviewing the job outlook in eight major economies, McKinsey estimated that 100 million workers — 1 in 16 — will need to change occupations by 2030. In the United States, McKinsey concluded, workers who will need retraining are most likely to have a lost low-income job and to be Black, Hispanic or female.

Read more:
COVID-19 pandemic hammers job market, but there are ‘opportunities,’ say analysts

“You can take people in these unskilled positions and teach them,” said Susan Lund, an author of the consultancy’s report on the jobs of the future. But in the United States, she said, “the problem is, we have not scaled it up. We do not a have a national program to do it.’’

The U.S. spends a fraction of what other rich countries do on programs that are designed to help workers make career transitions. And a bewildering web of employment and training programs often leaves workers confused. The programs tend to focus on helping laid-off factory workers — not the unemployed chefs and sales clerks who are likely to be most in need in the pandemic’s aftermath.

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“We make people jump through insane hoops just to get advice on getting a new job,” said Annelies Goger, who studies training programs as a fellow at the Brookings Institution. “We make it extremely challenging.’

In a paper last year, David Autor and Elisabeth Reynolds of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology warned that dwindling demand for low-paid workers without college degrees won’t coincide with job opportunities for “these same workers in middle-paid jobs…

“Those displaced may suffer significant hardship as they seek new work, potentially in occupations where they have no experience or training,” they wrote.

Wiseman reported from Washington, Olson from New York. AP writers David McHugh in Frankfurt, Germany; Frances D’Emilio and Maria Grazia Murru in Rome; Joe McDonald and Yu Bing in Beijing; Zen Soo in Hong Kong; Chen Si in Shanghai; Sam Magdy in Cairo; Sam Metz in Carson City, Nevada; and Fabiola Sánchez in Mexico City also contributed to this report.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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Canada’s top jobs with the fastest-growing demand in 2021: Randstad – National

by BBG Hub

After months of gradual gains, Canada’s labour market is in a funk again.

Statistics show the economy shed 63,000 positions in December, and many analysts expect the trend to continue as governments tighten COVID-19 restrictions amid rising case counts.

But while the new round of lockdowns is once again disproportionately hitting the same service-sector industries that saw the steepest job losses in March and April, a new report by Randstad, one of the world’s largest HR firms, shows the pandemic is also creating new roles in other corners of the economy.

Read more:
Canada sheds 63K jobs in December, first decline since April

The positions that are seeing the fastest-growing demand from employers reflect how companies are adapting to the new reality, says Carolyn Levy of Randstad Canada. And many of those trends are likely to survive the pandemic, she adds.

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Job interview Do’s and Don’ts

Job interview Do’s and Don’ts – Dec 13, 2020

Here are the big shifts afoot in the Canadian labour market and the top jobs associated with them, according to Randstad’s 2021 jobs forecast:

Shift to online sales — customer service representatives, delivery drivers, IT and support desk specialists, procurement and supply chain specialists, warehouse workers

With companies now forced to attend to customers and clients remotely, many are finding they need to hire more customer service representatives, Levy says. Seniors, in particular, have been more likely to struggle with the shift to online purchases, highlighting the need for support from customer service pros, she adds.

Delivery drivers, unsurprisingly, also feature prominently in Randstad’s list. But while delivery jobs have been in high demand for the past few years in Canada, it’s the need for short-distance deliveries within cities that has driven growth in the pandemic, Levy says.

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IT workers have been helping companies create or upgrade their online store, while supply chain specialists have been helping them rejig for an online-only business model, according to Levy. And with more goods now shipped directly from warehouses to customers’ homes, the need for warehouse workers has also increased.

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Many women not seeking to re-enter the workforce, expert says

Many women not seeking to re-enter the workforce, expert says – Dec 30, 2020

Shift to work-from-home — administrative assistants, IT specialists, security analysts and architects

Many businesses were moving away from traditional administrative assistant roles before the pandemic, Levy says. Companies figured they could do without receptionists, for example, and automating processes like checking in customers.

But with the shift to remote work, many firms are finding they need someone in charge of managing logistics, keeping track of schedules, and, say, corralling large numbers of people into a Zoom meeting, Levy says.

Read more:
No job during the COVID-19 pandemic? Here’s what you can do in 2021

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The work-from-home revolution has also put a strain on companies’ IT departments, prompting many to hire some extra help, according to Levy.

“Everybody (is) moving to the cloud … so you’re able to access your data from anywhere,” she says.

But as more sensitive company data migrates online, employers are also beefing up the ranks of cybersecurity specialists that can ensure the information is protected from hackers and other digital threats, Levy says.

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Advocates, workers call for better paid sick leave benefits

Advocates, workers call for better paid sick leave benefits

Extraordinary demand on essential retail services — essential retail workers, procurement and supply chain specialists, cleaners and maintenance workers, warehouse workers

For grocery stores and other essential retailers, the challenge has been to keep the shelves stocked in the face of unprecedented demand and unusual shopping patterns, like the toilet paper shortage and baking mania of the first months of the pandemic.

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And the need for essential retail workers and supply chain specialists persists in the second wave, Levy says.

Essential businesses are also having to hire extra cleaning staff to make sure they abide by health care directives and warehouse staff to keep goods moving.

Read more:
Air Canada to cut approximately 1,700 jobs

Extraordinary demand on the healthcare system — registered nurses

The demand for registered nurses comes from across the health care sector, whether it’s hospitals, long-term care homes or vaccine clinics, Levy says.

Across the whole system demand is “through the roof,” she says.

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‘Tired and broken’: ICU nurse reflects on pandemic toll

‘Tired and broken’: ICU nurse reflects on pandemic toll

Job seekers may find opportunity in unexpected places

A silver lining of the pandemic economy is that many of the workers displaced by the COVID-19 restrictions may well qualify for the jobs the health crisis is creating, Levy says.

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For example, travel booking agents, flight attendants and hotel workers likely have the right skills for customer representative or essential retail jobs, she says.

Job seekers should keep an open mind and look for opportunities that aren’t necessarily in their industry, she says.

“Don’t wait for things to return back to normal,” she says. “We’re going to have a new normal.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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B.C.’s 10 most expensive homes see rise in value in 2021

by BBG Hub

New numbers from BC Assessment show a rise in home valuations in Metro Vancouver, and the top end of the region’s real estate market is no different.

Almost of B.C.’s top 10 highest-valued properties in the province are in the Lower Mainland, where BC Assessment said average valuations for detached homes rose between zero and 10 per cent.

Each property in the top 10 rose in assessed value compared to last year.

Click to play video 'Open House: Predicting B.C. real estate trends for 2021'

Open House: Predicting B.C. real estate trends for 2021

Open House: Predicting B.C. real estate trends for 2021

Topping the list of B.C.’s most valuable properties is, once again, Lululemon founder Chip Wilson’s home at 3085 Point Grey Rd. in Vancouver. The sprawling property on the city’s west side was assessed at $66,828,000, up from its previous assessed value of $64,946,000, but well short of its 2018 peak of $78,837,000.

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At 15,694 square feet, the Lululemon founder’s home sits on a waterfront lot on the exclusive “Golden Mile,” which houses many of the city’s most luxurious multi-million-dollar homes.

At 15,694 square feet, the Lululemon founder’s home sits on a waterfront lot on the exclusive “Golden Mile,” which houses many of the city’s most luxurious multi-million-dollar homes.

Google Maps

Number two on the list, a repeat from 2020, is a 10-bedroom, 25,000-square-foot luxury mansion at 4707 Belmont Ave., which overlooks Spanish Banks.

BC Assessment valued the property at $60,362,000 in 2021, up from last year’s assessed value of $58,727,000. In 2017, the property was assessed at $71,820,000.

4707 Belmont Ave. is the second most valuable property in B.C. according to BC Assessment.

4707 Belmont Ave. is the second most valuable property in B.C. according to BC Assessment.

Google Maps

B.C.’s third most valuable property remains James Island. The privately-owned Southern Gulf island, which is home to a 5,000-square-foot principal residence, six guest cottages, private docks, an airstrip, a pool house and a manager’s residence, is valued at $57,980,000 for 2021, up from $56,747,000 last year.

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James Island.

James Island.

Google Maps

Coming in at number four is 4719 Belmont Ave., next door to the property that took the number two slot. BC Assessment valued the home at $37,340,000 this year, up from $36,042,000 from last year.

4719 Belmont Ave.

4719 Belmont Ave.

Google Maps

Five of the province’s top 10 most valuable properties are on Belmont Avenue on Vancouver’s west side, while three others are a few kilometres away on Point Grey Road.

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Here are B.C.’s 10 highest-valued properties for 2021, according to BC Assessment:

  1. 3085 Point Grey Rd. – $66,828,000 (Previous: $64,946,000)
  2. 4707 Belmont Ave. – $60,362,000 (Previous: $58,728,000)
  3. James Island – $57,980,000 ($56,747,000)
  4. 4719 Belmont Ave. $37,340,000 (Previous: $36,042,000)
  5. 2815 Point Grey Rd. – $34,269,000 (Previous: $32,588,000)
  6. 4743 Belmont Ave – $33,839,000 (Previous: $32,771,000)
  7. 4773 Belmont Ave. – $32,787,000 (Previous: $31,720,000)
  8. 4857 Belmont Ave. – $31,576,000 (Previous: $30,208,000)
  9. 35220 Cassiar Ave., Abbotsford – $31,423,000 (Previous: $30,022,000)
  10. 2999 Point Grey Rd. $30,649,000 (Previous: $29,479,000)

— With files from Simon Little

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Will the 2nd coronavirus wave wipe away Canada’s movie theatres? – National

by BBG Hub

Recent headlines about movie theatres sound like they could have been ripped from the script of a horror movie.

Cineplex stocks took a dive earlier this week after the launch of the new James Bond movie No Time to Die was postponed yet again because of the novel coronavirus health emergency. The North American release of the much-awaited 25th iteration of the Bond saga, which stars Daniel Craig, is now planned for April 2, 2021, a year after it was originally scheduled.

READ MORE: Netflix Canada raising prices for standard, premium subscribers

Superhero mega-movie Black Widow, with Scarlett Johansson, is now set to hit the theatres on May 7 of next year, instead of Nov. 6. Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story has been pushed back a year from December 2020 to December 2021. Avatar 2 suffered the same fate. Even Halloween movies are on hold.

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Amid the cascade of delays, IMAX announced on Oct. 8 it would furlough 150 employees. On the same day, Cineworld Group temporarily shut down its more than 500 Regal locations across the U.S. as well as 127 venues in the U.K.

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‘James Bond: No Time to Die’ teaser trailer

‘James Bond: No Time to Die’ teaser trailer

Theatre closures could erase movie-going for good from American culture, director Patty Jenkins, whose Wonder Woman movie has been delayed three times, warned earlier this week.

“If we shut this down, this will not be a reversible process,” she said in an interview with Reuters. “We could lose movie theatre-going forever.”

The U.S. National Association of Theatre Owners said 69 per cent of small and mid-sized cinemas could be forced to file for bankruptcy.

In Canada, the plotline for movie theatres portends an equally high-stakes gambit as the country is well into a second wave of the pandemic.

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On Friday, Ontario announced cinemas will be among the venues mandated to close temporarily in Toronto, Ottawa and Peel Region, as the province as the country battles daily case numbers that have now surpassed the peak of the spring wave.

In Quebec, where case counts are even higher, the province has shut down cinemas in Montreal, Quebec City and the Chaudière-Appalaches region, among many other restrictions.

READ MORE: Quebec announces $50M to help theatres, other venues cover losses

That’s despite the fact that, if you’re looking to have fun outside the home, going to the movies is one of your safer bets — literally speaking.

Canadian movie-theatre operators are adamant they’ve taken every precaution to keep guests safe.

Cinemas north of the border have seen over two million admissions since reopening around four months ago, and not a single COVID-19 outbreak has been traced back to them, says Nuria Bronfman, executive director of the Movie Theatre Association of Canada.

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What’s Streaming: October series and movie releases

What’s Streaming: October series and movie releases

Movie theatres, she says, areuniquely poised to offer a very enjoyable entertainment experience while still providing safety measures and maintaining social distances,” she says.

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Movie theatres are large, usually well-ventilated rooms where guests who aren’t in the same social bubble sit far apart. Everyone stares in the same direction — instead of, say, sitting across a table from each other — and interactions with staff are minimal, Bronfman notes.

Theatres have also automated a lot of ticket and concession purchasing, staggered showtimes and established one-way entry and exit points to avoid two-way foot traffic, she says.

With the proper safety protocols in place, the movie-going experience can be made safe, says Dr. Sumontra Chakrabarti, an infectious disease specialist at Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga, Ont.

READ MORE: Surrey movie theatre that reopened amid COVID-19 closes after 200% rent increase, says owner 

A crowded theatre with audiences screaming, laughing or crying at the screen would pose a high health risk, Chakrabarti says. But a room with good ventilation and where people are sitting five or six metres apart and wearing masks is very different, he notes.

At the same time, though, when evaluating the health risks of going to the movies, “you have to also think about what’s happening in the community,” Chakrabarti says.

While case counts remain very low in parts of the country, going to the movies may present “a bit of a higher risk” in Toronto, where cases have been climbing over the past four weeks, he says.

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But as studios delay major releases, it’s the lack of big-budget movies — in addition to health concerns — that might keep Canadians and Americans at home.

“It’s really tough because these theatres rise and fall based on the content,” says Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore. “It’s the big blockbusters that really inspire people to go out to the movie theatre.”

The pandemic has put a wedge between studios and movie theatres, even though both have much riding on box-office numbers.

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How are people getting COVID-19 in the second wave? One doctor weighs in

How are people getting COVID-19 in the second wave? One doctor weighs in

Revenue from ticket sales is typically split among theatre owners, distributors and studios, with the latter often taking a larger share of opening-weekend sales.

But with theatre attendance plummeting in North America, many studios are pressing the pause button on their most-awaited releases.

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Some have opted for releasing some content straight to streaming. Universal Pictures’ Trolls World Tour had nearly five million rentals in the U.S. and Canada by the end of April, just three weeks after release, racking up nearly US$100 million ($140 million), The Wall Street Journalreported. Walt Disney tried its luck with the same model with its US$200-million ($263-million) Mulan remake, which has been available for streaming for US$30 and $34.99 in Canada on Disney+.

But a streaming-only model likely isn’t viable for Hollywood studios, especially for big-budget movies that might cost more than $200 million to produce and market, Dergarabedian says.

Tellingly, Disney released its live-action version of Mulan in theatres in China, where movie attendance rose to pre-pandemic levels during a recent national holiday. And while Mulan had a disappointing debut there amid a chilly audience reception, the Chinese box office has been a bright spot for Hollywood studios throughout the pandemic.

READ MORE: #BoycottMulan — Disney movie faces backlash for filming in Xinjiang, China

Christopher Nolan’s spy movie Tenet has grossed around $300 million ($394 million) at the global box office, though just around $50 million ($66 million) in the U.S. and Canada.

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Tam warns habits must change to avoid second wave

Tam warns habits must change to avoid second wave

Dergarabedian argues Tenet’s North America numbers are solid, given the circumstances, and that studios shouldn’t give as much weight to opening weekend sales as they used to with exhibitors operating with limited capacity and fewer theatres open.

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“We have to look at the long-term success, the long-term trajectory of these films, not look at an opening weekend anymore,” he says.

But Tenet‘s less-than-stellar performance at the North American box office may have given studios pause about releasing more of their big-budget films.

Amid a dearth of new material, Canada’s movie theatres are resorting to running on indie productions and re-runs to help keep the lights on.

Jaws and E.T. were the number one films for a few weeks when theatres reopened, Bronfman recalls.

Some theatres, she says, have improvised their own mini-film festivals, showing the full collection of popular sagas (think: all of the Rocky movies, for example).

READ MORE: ‘Percy’ director adds fictional elements to Percy Schmeiser’s onscreen story

But cinemas are also hurting from drastically lower revenues from concessions, a key profit generator, according to Dergarabedian.

“A lot of theatres make their money by selling popcorn and candy and soda,” he says.

In Canada, some theatres can’t sell concessions due to local by-laws, while others have opted to let guests bring their own snacks and drinks, Bronfman says.

Still, Dergarabedian believes movie theatres will still be here once the pandemic is over.

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“I think theatres are still going to be the destination for blockbusters and other movies,” he says. “A streaming-only world, I don’t think, is ever going to exist because we are social beings,” he adds.

— With files from Reuters


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