Sales Down for BC Retailers This Year

Photo by Tim Douglas on

Since COVID-19 hit we have seen a variety of stores close in Vancouver and around Canada. Stores like Le Chateau have been closing up locations, and The Bay, a number of retailers haven’t been able to weather the pandemic.

Malls last year turned into ghost malls overnight. Now when you walk through a mall like Brentwood or Lougheed mall you might see several locations empty that used to be filled with small vendors who had been there for years. Retailers have been hit hard and some of those small businesses have been closed for good.

Retail sales in Canada have been down at the start of 2021 and are expected to make a turnaround.

Recent reports suggest that their sales are down for certain businesses still, they’re facing another slump.

A variety of malls have undergone huge makeovers in recent years, with millions of dollars going into upgrading facilities, adding more shopping area, and other improvements. A large number of nearby high rises have also been built around those shopping center locations in the lower mainland too.

Statistics Canada recently reported that retail sales at the beginning of the year this year have decreased to around $52.2 billion for the first month out of 2021. The sales at clothing and accessories stores reportedly dropped almost 20 percent, to around 17.8 percent. Furniture also dropped, with home furnishing sales, to more than 15 percent, and sporting and hobby sales dropped more than 16 percent.

Online Shopping for Canadians has Doubled

Millions of people had to go into lockdown last year because of the pandemic and that meant that they turned to online shopping. Now it meant ordering everything from new glasses to groceries, clothing, and shoes, anything that you might need. In a variety of places around the world those retailers had been severely limited even around the holiday season and that meant people had to resort to ordering online if they could make it in time.

Online shopping has increased dramatically for Canadians since last year and for many that is likely to continue, now that they are used to that regular habit of ordering online. As many had been prevented from spending their money by going to regular malls last year, it’s been previously suggested that we might see some ‘revenge spending’ come soon now that people are able to go out more. As those COVID-19 restrictions continue to be eased that might help, but there are also growing worries of COVID-19 variants and 3rd waves.

For those businesses that are still open, it doesn’t mean that they might not be struggling. And for some of them it could take years for them to recover the setbacks that COVID-19 caused for their business. There are still thousands of businesses that need help and community support if they are going to survive and this includes retailers around the lower mainland. Those who weren’t prepared to go online for selling last year probably didn’t do as well as those who could’ve made the shift quickly.

When the pandemic hit there were many businesses that had to jump into problem-solving mode and that meant ramping up their online efforts and starting to do online ordering solely if that was their only option to survive.

Photo by Edgars Kisuro on

The Cost of Living in BC

BC is one of the most expensive regions to live in the entire country, with cities like Vancouver and Burnaby that are among the most expensive of all to live. For many who are just trying to make their basic necessities and stay afloat, they cannot fathom going shopping for any extra right now. There are still many people who need help in BC and across Canada, the pandemic isn’t over for them. Thousands lost their jobs, are months behind on rent, and many are facing evictions too.

The pandemic has already fueled a shift in spending habits in BC and other regions. With a lot of uncertainty surrounding the future it meant that many people started saving more, looking to pay off debt, and trying to spend a little less on things that they do not need.

B.C. right now is said to be leading the pack when it comes to the most debt that had been accrued during the pandemic, according to a poll from last year.

Many in British Columbia when questioned as a part of that poll, suggested that they were worried about the pandemic lasting well into 2021. Because of that uncertainty many reported that they were trying to make better financial decisions for their spending habits. But for many it meant that they were having to go into debt last year for everyday purchases.

Government support given out last year reportedly helped to stimulate some consumer spending, but there are still issues with a slump in sales. Canadians last year decided to change their spending habits and start saving more, trying to even aim for fueling an emergency fund if they could.

Last year there were millions of Canadian jobs lost during the pandemic. As well, it had also been found that the average employee was working less hours as well and earning less income. Match that with the decrease in confidence and people are willing to spend less on certain things in the market.

The pandemic last year meant that people had to get used to ordering food online, finding new entertainment habits, and making other changes. This meant that their spending was shifting right along with those changes being made. Now, some in BC are still too scared to get out and spend, and many simply just don’t have the excess to do it right now.

All hope is not lost of course, a rebound is expected to take place for the BC economy, though who knows how long that could take. A rebound for retail sales might not be that far off some have suggested. Right now though, the pain is still real in just trying to get from day to day. For many in BC last year it meant going to the food bank for the first time.

This is still a reality that many are going through, with families and individuals struggling all across the Greater Vancouver region, fighting just to meet their daily needs. Companies and agencies around the province and elsewhere have been detrimental to making that possible, in funding the food banks and charities with supplies needed to help those across the province.

Categories: news, story, vancouver

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1 reply »

  1. The corona virus is a small taster of what will happen as climate change really kicks in. A fair percentage of climate change is being caused by over consumption and a convenient throwaway society often based on cheap foreign labour producing goods of low quality that are not meant to last. With 7.8bn+ and growing human primates we are going to have to change our ways. This means consuming less along with repair, reuse and recycling of almost everything. This will create more local jobs where communities become much more efficient and are less environmentally loading on a limited resources planet. Our economics are going to have to start changing and following for example Kate Raworth’s Doughnut economic model.


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