Small Business and the British Colombia Economy

CUPE-BC & Civic Economics

Year: 2013

Commissioned by the British Columbia division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, this study analyzes the market share and economic impact of the province’s independent retailers and restaurants.

It finds that BC’s independent retailers captured just over half of all retail sales as recently as 2003, but have since lost ground.  By 2010, independents accounted for 45 percent of BC’s overall retail sales and only 34 percent of the market with automobile and gasoline sales excluded.

Although BC has a reputation for innovative planning initiatives, on this measure it lags the rest of Canada, where independents account for 42 percent of retail spending.  Among restaurants, BC’s independent sector accounts for 72 percent of full-service dining and 19 percent of limited-service dining.

With regard to economic impact, the study finds that, for every $1,000,000 in sales, independent retail stores generate $450,000 in local economic activity, compared to just $170,000 for chains.  Among restaurants, the figures are $650,000 for independents and $300,000 for chains.  Across both sectors, this translates into about 2.6 times as many local jobs created when spending is directed to independent businesses instead of chains.

The study concludes that a shift of just 10 percent of the market from chains to independents would produce 31,000 jobs paying $940 million in annual wages to BC workers.

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