Research Insights Archive

Our History of Research

The Status of Retail and Commercial Activity in Smaller Centres


The Status of Retail and Commercial Activity in Smaller Centres

By Dr. Jim Simmons, Dr. Ken Jones and Gleb Bylow

This report describes another exploration into the variation in commercial service provisions across Canada.  The study was carried out as part of a project to develop a series of maps of commercial specialization for the National Atlas of Canada website.  While the initial focus of the analysis was the identification of various kinds of commercial specialization it became evident that the results also increased our understanding about the most attractive urban centres for commercial services.  We have identified those cities that attract customers from outside their markets, and those that lose customers to other places, as the 'best and the worst'.  We have repeated the exercise for different kinds of retail financial and commercial service activities, and we have explored the distribution of growth and decline.  Finally, we have compared the results to the current distribution of corporate services, defined by the outlets of chain and franchise organizations.

The variations in centralization are substantial, but the pattern is largely regional, rather than local, a reflection of the economic base and the surrounding geography.  The variation in growth rates is also substantial, and also largely regional, but essentially unrelated to centralization patterns.  Finally, the pattern of corporate penetration in the services varies with both city size and region, but in aggregate, at least, is not closely associated with either centrality or growth.


Share this