Visits to downtown Vancouver's business districts down by 37%

Apr 20 2021, 7:24 pm

The number of people visiting downtown Vancouver was down by 37% year-over-year for the period between June and December 2020.

A new study by the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA) and Environics Analytics dives into COVID-19’s impact on visits to Granville Street, West Hastings Street, Alberni Street, and the 300 to 900 blocks of Robson Street.

Not including the office workforce, most visitors were young singles and couples, and a larger proportion of total downtown business area visits were by downtown peninsula residents, according to a release.

The West Hastings Street corridor saw a 46% decrease in foot traffic, which is the area with the greatest drop in visits. This corridor has a cluster of hotels and English language schools, and it is the location of the SFU Harbour Centre campus.

Granville Street and 300-900 block Robson Street visits dropped by 37%, while Alberni Street saw a drop of 26%.

On the other hand, the percentage of total downtown visits by downtown peninsula residents increased from 11% in 2019 to 16% in 2020 over the same period. Comparatively, the total visits fell by 28% for Vancouver residents, 44% from Surrey, and 45% from Burnaby.

Additionally, singles and couples under the age of 40 saw the lowest drop in visits, decreasing by 27%. In contrast, there was a drop of 40% from large, diverse families, and 41% from middle-aged families.

800 robson plaza vancouver

800 Robson Plaza reopened in late March 2021 with its new permanent design. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

It is also estimated that the average daytime workforce population within downtown — including office workers — ranged between 12,000 and 35,000 in 2020, depending on the month due to fluctuating COVID-19 case counts and public health restrictions. In 2019, the daytime average workforce population was 116,000.

The eventual revival of events and festivals in downtown is seen as a key strategy for bringing back people into downtown.

“Knowing who visited the downtown core pre-pandemic, and who continued to visit throughout, will help inform our recovery efforts over the coming weeks and months,” said Charles Gauthier, the president and CEO of the DVBIA, in a statement.

“This data set highlights opportunities for our member businesses to target their marketing campaigns to downtown peninsula residents, which will be a helpful tool as they begin safely welcoming customers to their establishments. We’re confident that with the eventual return of festivals and events to the downtown core, we’ll see more families visiting once again.”

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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