BUSINESS
05/28/2019 11:44 EDT | Updated 05/29/2019 14:42 EDT

Vancouver Businesses Are Feeling The Pain From The Housing Downturn

Retailers who rely on home renovation are seeing falling sales.

KathrynHatashitaLee via Getty Images
Retail locations near the corner of Robson at Burrard streets in downtown Vancouver.

Realtors aren’t the only ones whose business is taking a hit as the housing market corrects in Vancouver and across the rest of the province.

Some retailers are also feeling the pinch, a recent report from Central 1 Credit Union says.

Specifically, Central 1 Deputy Chief Economist Bryan Yu suggests that retailers who benefit to some extent from homebuying activity, such as furniture stores, are seeing slower sales these days. “In terms of the retail segment… what we can see is that the housing-market slowdown is having a negative impact,” Yu tells Livabl.

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Last week Yu highlighted the trend in his weekly B.C. Economic Briefing.

“Housing-related sales at building materials, garden and supplies dealers… and home furniture and furnishings dealers are down, reflecting the soft housing market,” he wrote last week in the report, responding to BC retail sales data from Statistics Canada.

Sales of building materials specifically were down 4 percent province-wide in March on a year-over-year basis, after having plunged 12 percent in February.

On a inflation-adjusted basis provincial retail sales overall are trending marginally lower. But Yu tells Livabl that not every segment is seeing declines, lending credence to the idea that BC’s housing downturn is policy induced rather than the result of a broader recession taking hold. “It’s kind of isolated a little bit more to certain segments,” he says.

Clothing store sales, for instance, increased 4 percent annually. “[N]on-discretionary purchases at food and beverage stores and health product stores are up,” Yu adds in the report.

While automotive sales are dragging as well, Yu suggests that’s partly a result of particularly strong sales in recent years. “It’s kind of a natural slowdown,” he adds, noting that higher interest rates have discouraged consumers to take on more debt through auto loans.