VANCOUVER -- Some previously furloughed staff at Mountain Equipment Co-op have now been laid off as the company grapples with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 crisis.

The major retailer, which is headquartered in Vancouver, said the move was a "last resort" made necessary by the various pandemic-related challenges businesses are facing across the country.

"The declaration of a public health emergency, the various public health recommendations, federal and provincial government mandated restrictions on gatherings, the need for social distancing, the considerable economic impact, and the impact of COVID-19 generally has had a significant impact on the retail industry, MEC and our teams," the company said in an email statement.

"We are committed to moving forward in the best interest of our organization, employees, and members during this global crisis."

MEC did not confirm exactly how many employees were let go, but said it totalled "less than 200 front-line staff" across Canada. CTV News has asked for more information on the impacts in British Columbia, which is home to five of the company's 21 stores.

On the MEC website, seven locations have been listed as "closed until further notice," while the other 14 remain open for business.

The retailer told CTV News the stores that are currently shut down are "temporarily closed, not permanently closed."

"After experiencing the effects of COVID-19 for approximately four months, we have a better understanding of MEC member needs during this global crisis at our open stores and therefore have had to adjust staffing levels accordingly," the company said.


A previous version of this story incorrectly reported that approximately 60 of the laid-off employees were in Calgary. Mountain Equipment Co-op is not sharing layoff information by location.