retail in the nanaimo region


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Nanaimo is the regional retail and service centre for central and northern Vancouver Island. The retail sector is the largest employment sector in the city, providing 6,135 jobs for 15% of the labour force, with 802 businesses.

The sector has benefited from an expanding market and above average regional spending. Nanaimo serves a primary trade area of over 154,495 people. Secondary and tertiary markets encompass an additional 218, 819 people. Collectively, these markets grew in size at an average rate of 2.25% per year between 2006 and 2011.

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, with two BC Ferry terminals that serve passenger, vehicle and commercial traffic. The airport and float plane terminals provide an even quicker access to Vancouver.

Retail sector growth is driven by market size and consumer purchase behaviour. In Nanaimo, market size has been expanding from population growth.