Vancouver retail insight - Q1 2022
The prospects for Vancouver post-pandemic remain bright
- Heli Brecailo
- Claudia Verno
The prospects for Vancouver post-pandemic remain bright. Its population will grow by more than one-third in the next generation, adding one million residents. The region remains Canada’s second most attractive for immigration, with the highest immigrant retention rate of any metropolitan area. While there is a strong need to build to accommodate this growth, this is an opportunity for retail development, especially within walking distance of homes.
Vancouver withstood the pandemic gracefully. Retail sales in Vancouver fared better than in other major markets. Highly connected, Vancouver supported the acceleration of e-commerce and adoption of hybrid shopping. Digital natives took notice of the local social-media engagement and are opening flagships to enhance the retail experience.
Although office workers, tourists, and students abandoned the downtown area during the peak of the pandemic, Gastown is once again looking up as workers trickle back to the office, cruise ships dock again, and in-person classes resume. In the meantime, shoppers stayed closer to their homes and West 4th, a prime suburban corridor, increased in popularity.
With strong provincial support, Vancouver quickly became a destination for electric vehicles (EVs). Auto makers VinFast, Polestar, and Lucid recently identified Vancouver as a key market. Luxury retail has held up well, and we might be reaching the point where brands look for alternatives to Alberni Street.
Asians continue to influence Vancouver greatly, and Asian brands arrive in Vancouver before expanding to the rest of Canada. Chinese have an especially strong preference for luxury and e-commerce. According to Vivintel, more than 60 million Chinese adults are considering immigration to Canada.
International retailers continue to choose Vancouver as a landing hub in Canada. Emerging categories include athleisure, optical, and outdoor.