retail in the nanaimo region


Nanaimo is the regional retail and service centre for central and northern Vancouver Island.  The Retail sector is the second largest employment sector in Nanaimo, providing jobs for 7,380 local residents which accounts for approximately 14.1% of the total labour market (2016 Census).  728 establishments in Nanaimo hold a retail business license, representing approximately 12.0% of total business licenses in the City of Nanaimo.


There are several factors which influence Nanaimo’s role as a regional retail and service centre.  The city is the largest urban area north of Victoria, with a growing population base.  All major Island transportation corridors lead to Nanaimo and the City is a gateway between the Island and the mainland. 

The sector has benefited from an expanding market and positive economic conditions. Nanaimo serves a primary trade area of over 164,235 people. Secondary and tertiary markets encompass an additional 228, 416 people. Collectively, these markets grew in size by 4.17% between 2011 and 2016.

Source: Nanaimo Economic Development Office