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Barrington Street businesses adjust to downtown Halifax changes, prepare for more prosperous future

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Barrington Street in downtown Halifax features plenty of retail space, but there’s a visibly high volume of shutdown and papered up storefronts.

“Businesses are always opening and closing,” said Lorn Sheehan who is a professor at Dalhousie University’s Rowe School of Business.

Several Barrington Street small businesses have closed in recent months, and Sheehan said there’s several possible reasons why.

“Subject to pressures of the economy, competitors, consumer tastes,” said Sheehan.

Plus, there are more common issues that impact the downtown experience.

“Like traffic buildup,” said Neighbourhood Witch store employee, Tori MacDonald, who added ongoing construction in the area has also caused difficulties. “I am coming here an hour or two hours before we open the shop, just to make sure I’m here on time.”

The biggest downtown construction project is the Cogswell District rebuild and renovation.

On the one hand, Sheehan said this project will likely provide a positive long-term result for the city.

“More retail space, more spaces for businesses,” said Sheehan. “Better connection to our Waterfront and to our north end.”

But until it’s finished, Sheehan believes it is likely bringing some short term pain to the downtown economy.

“There are limited shops down here, and people have migrated up to Spring Garden Road,” said MacDonald.

Also, to the suburbs, and other shopping districts like Dartmouth Crossing.

“Why would I shop downtown,” said Dartmouth shopper Gillian Elliott, who prefers coming to Dartmouth Crossing, with better traffic flow, and more parking. “I can get everything I need out here.”

The Neighbourhood Witch has recently changed locations, and so far the move is paying off.

“We were on Queen Street and we didn’t get as much for traffic as we do down here on Barrington,” said MacDonald, who would like to see even more improvement, saying she has some ideas to push along the idea of future prosperity.

“Maybe putting more grocery stores, and some health care centres and then you would probably see an uptick in more consumers coming downtown.”

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