City Sidewalks, Busy Sidewalks: Mobile Data Points to Busier Holiday Shopping Season

November 15, 2022 6 Minute Read

Mobile data points to busier holiday shopping season

A CBRE snapshot of summer foot traffic data along a popular stretch of Toronto’s Queen Street West shows that momentum has been building over the past two years in one of the city’s key retail nodes.

A comparative analysis of foot traffic in summer 2020 versus summer 2022 shows that traffic on the stretch of Queen Street West from Spadina Avenue to Bathurst Street is up 80% overall in that period.

“Our analysis of mobility data offers compelling evidence that high street retail, having suffered considerably during the pandemic, appears to be well on the way to a full recovery, and likely beyond that before long,” says Naz Ali, Senior GIS Manager with CBRE’s Location Intelligence team.

Queen Street Recovery 2022 

The north side of Queen Street between Bathurst and Denison Avenue in particular saw foot traffic recover by nearly 100% in 2022 compared to 2020 (and more than 100% in the case of the block between Ryerson Avenue and Denison.) This stretch is home to more than a dozen restaurants and bars, a smattering of indie shops, and a Shoppers Drug Mart. Across the street is a complex housing Loblaws, Joe Fresh and Winners, although foot traffic on this south side of Queen saw a lower 70% recovery in 2022 versus 2020.

Also witnessing a nearly 100% recovery of its foot traffic in summer 2022 compared to 2020 was the south side of Queen Street west from Spadina to McDougall Lane. This section includes Urban Outiftters, several restaurants and a TD Bank branch. A popular tourist attraction, Graffiti Alley, is located just south of here, which could explain some of the foot traffic increase.

Queen Street Dwell Time 2022

“While office utilization and business districts still have a ways to recover, we’re seeing that adjacent neighbourhoods with significant population density are doing quite well,” say Ali. “So plan ahead when it comes to holiday shopping because we have reason to believe that sidewalks will be full and stores will be busy in Toronto’s Queen West and in high street areas in cities across Canada.”
Queen Street Visitor Capture 2022
Queen Street Top Neighbourhoods 2022

Where Visitors Came From

CBRE’s Queen Street West analysis also revealed interesting trends about where the visitors were coming from in 2020 compared to 2022.

In 2020, 40% of the visitors to Queen West between Bathurst and Spadina came from within a 6.3 km radius; in 2022 this radius had shrunk to 4.1 km, suggesting the traffic coming to Queen had grown more local over the two year period. Indeed, 2.4% of the visitors in 2022 lived in Little Portugal and 2.1% in Trinity Bellwoods, surrounding neighbourhoods that didn’t register for Queen West visitor capture in 2020.

“I find it quite interesting that visitors were coming from areas that didn’t show up in 2020,” says Ali. “So the neighbourhood profile has changed.”

And the visitors have been lingering on Queen West for longer. In 2020 the average dwell time during the week was 33 minutes; by 2022 the average dwell time had increased to 38 minutes. During the weekend, the difference in dwell time was even more pronounced. In 2020 the average weekend dwell time on this section of Queen West was around 31 minutes; in 2022 the weekend dwell time shot up to 43 minutes.

“This could be telling us that people are taking more time these days for the simpler things in life, such as strolling along Queen Street and enjoying the variety of sights and sounds this essential Toronto retail node has to offer,” suggests Ali. “Perhaps we’ve learned to slow down and savour experiences a bit more.”

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