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Winnipeg hardware store feeling the fallout of soaring inflation

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A hardware store in Winnipeg’s North End says it is feeling the fallout of soaring inflation.

Pollock’s Hardware Co-op Ltd. was one of the few essential services open during the pandemic and saw soaring sales as people looked to renovate their homes.

But now, Pollock’s is seeing fewer patrons pass through its doors.

“Everyone was coming in to buy products for their renovations or DIY products,” said Pollock’s general manager Kaitlyn Peters. “And we have seen that taper off a little bit.”

Peters said less foot traffic and higher costs have hit the shop’s bottom line.

“We have seen a drop off in sales over the last year or so since the pandemic,” Peters said. “It has impacted how many hours we’re able to give to our staff a little bit. We’ve just had to narrow our assortment.”

Experts say financial support supplied by the federal government during the pandemic contributed to skyrocketing sales for stores like Pollock’s.

“But now, it’s the flip side of that and the sales are starting to come down,” said Fletcher Baragar, an economics professor at the University of Manitoba. “The economic reality is higher inflation rates and higher interest rates, and that’s putting the squeeze on household budgets.”

The Manitoba Home Builders’ Association says some of its members are feeling that squeeze first-hand.

“Interest rates continue to be a significant barrier for homeowners to access financing to build a new home,” said association president and CEO Lanny McInnes.

Baragar says that barrier won’t be going away any time soon.

“The Bank of Canada is telling us to expect high interest rates for at least another year,” he said. “They’re expecting inflation rates of excess of 3 per cent.”

To help subsidize some of those costs for customers, Pollock’s offers rental services for tools and equipment.

“Because of the state of the economy right now, we are able to offer those services and people are more willing to come in,” Peters said.

Peters added that having more people coming in also helps the hardware store’s sales and keeps customers coming back.

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