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2022 Retail Outlook

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research article

The Canadian Retail sector exhibited signs of sheer resilience and recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the second half of 2021, there was robust growth in the labour market and a boost in home-grown and foreign consumer demand. The Bank of Canada (BoC) indicates that the overall economic slack has been absorbed.

Key Insights:

  • The latest numbers from Statistics Canada show that retail sales rose by 8.6% in December 2021 YoY, totaling $57.0 billion. 
  • Global supply chain bottlenecks are putting an upward pressure on prices. According to Statistics Canada, in January 2022, Canadian inflation surpassed 5% for the first time since September 1991, rising 5.1% on a year-over-year basis and up from a 4.8% gain in December 2021.
  • With supply chains bottlenecking again in the first quarter of 2022, Canadian consumers should expect delayed shipments, higher prices, and less stock in their local stores and online.
  • In the Bank of Canada’s Business Outlook Survey for the fourth quarter of 2021, about 4 in 10 firms reported that labour shortages are constraining their sales.
  • In terms of year-over-year change, it is not surprising that spending remained strong among industries related to outfitting and recreation as things began to normalize in 2021 since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gasoline sales went up dramatically as people began to commute more to work and in general, to spend more time outdoors.
  • As per the latest Statistics Canada data, retail e-commerce sales were down 14.2% year-over-year to $4.1 billion in December 2021, accounting for 6.5% of total retail trade. Out of total retail sales, the share of e-commerce sales fell by 170 basis points YoY. 
  • Retailers that had to shut down temporarily or were required to limit the number of people allowed in their store moved to a "hybrid retail" system where customers could place orders online or by phone before coming to the store to pick up goods.
  • The emergence of conscious consumerism over the past few years is a force that retailers will need to address. From environmental concerns to a desire to see better representation in the products sold, the consumer in 2022 expects the retailer they buy from to be doing better.
  • Canada’s retail vacancy rate declined 100 basis points (bps) from year-end 2020 down to 7.7% in Q4 2021. Vacancy rates for all retail property types have seen vacancy rates declined in 2021. Retail rents across provinces depict a fast rebound in 2021 after a significant dip in 2020. 
  • The long-term strategy for many companies should involve the increased use of Artificial Intelligence. Businesses should continue to train their employees in the machine learning space to grow and innovate, given the frequent shocks in the market. 

2022 Retail Outlook

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Pour plus d’informations, veuillez contacter:

Madeleine Nicholls

Managing Director, Brokerage | Greater Toronto Area


Madeleine is Managing Director of the GTA and joined Colliers in March 2020. Prior to that she worked at Dream heading up the National Retail Division, and prior to that worked  with several major Landlords across Canada, as well as in brokerage. Madeleine is a global citizen having traveled and lived abroad most of her life.  Madeleine looks to the best in class worldwide examples of commercial real estate to bring the best in the world to our practice. 

Madeleine has extensive experience working on some of the pre-eminent developments in Canada.  She has successfully leased up of a variety of mixed use and retail projects ranging in size from urban retail to 73 acre retail/office/residential mixed use developments.  She has exceptional tenant relationship management and expertise in redevelopment of properties to maximize value.

Madeleine has expertise at all levels of new business development from strategic planning and acquisitions to prospecting, pitching, negotiating offers and leases, and build out of space.  Innovative business developer, team leader and mentor with proven ability to inspire and achieve results by creating a collaborative and streamlined environment focused on delivering superb results.  Madeleine has deep connections in the real estate industry and a passion to deliver results that exceed expectations.

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Leo Lee

Directeur national Opérations, Recherche | Canada

Toronto West

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