With the recent closures of Future Shop and Target, the Canadian retail market has become somewhat of a question mark. Add once-established retailers like Jacob, Mexx, and Sony to this list, and many were calling 2015 the Year of the Black Swan, with a level of uncertainty of what’s to come.
However, the B.C. retail industry is currently flourishing. According to a national Colliers report, our province had a strong start to 2015 and is currently leading Canada in the first-quarter sales growth. What’s driven this newfound trend? A few factors have helped, including a strong U.S. dollar, which has encouraged many Canadians to spend their money at home. The province’s growing population has also played a part, as an average of 40,000 people settle in our province each year, driving demand in all facets of real estate and resources.
Instead of relying on big box stores to anchor tenant space, commercial landlords have been filling their properties with a variety of retailers to accommodate cultural demand. Lifestyle-oriented businesses like spin and yoga studios as well as high-end luxury brands seem to occupy all corners of the city. Having evolved into a foodie town, Vancouver’s restaurant scene has also grown at a rapid pace, with new restaurants popping up weekly.
So why did some retailers close, while others thrived? It all comes down to the way we buy. The consumer has changed, and so have their shopping habits. To compete, retailers will have to get more creative. The user wants an experience both in-store and online, which means companies need to be active on social media as well as invest in mobile technology to make the buying process seamless. Apple, which was reported as Canada’s most productive retailer, has turned their 29 stores into interactive spaces where consumers can shop, learn, or simply hang out.
It’s a competitive arena for retailers to be apart of, but as the report shows, the demand is there for those who play their cards right. Whether B.C. can maintain this pace is yet to be seen, but so far, things are looking up.