Surrey Consumers Crave Flavor, Flocking to Entertainment and Dining, Eager to Shop Local.

plates of food at a restaurant with two people in the background smiling
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Now amid the holiday shopping season, our team was curious to learn more about the spending habits of our local shoppers. We surveyed a representative group of 1400 consumers to get their impressions of the economy, specifically inflationary pressure, household trends, and which gaps contribute to residents spending outside the city. 

To avoid burying the lead, we’re certain that you’ll see Surrey’s wealth of opportunities for ambitious entrepreneurs who are looking to expand or invest in new entertainment and retail businesses. The insights here are just a snapshot of data we’ve collected. If you’re looking for a new home for your business, please reach out to our team and we can provide you with what you need to de-risk your investment and ensure your success in Surrey. 

Inflation Fails to Dampen Appetite for Entertainment 

Considering recent headlines, we had a hunch that nearly all respondents would express concern about inflation; however, this worry was much less prevalent than expected and varied significantly depending on what people were looking to purchase. For instance, 65% expressed concern about the increased cost of groceries, healthcare, and bills; however, only 21% felt strong concern about the cost of entertainment and recreation, 19% for apparel and accessories, and 16% for home goods. This encourages optimism for prospective retail business amid broader economic uncertainty.  

Graph: Level of Concern over Price Increases by Retail Sector  (sorted in order of monthly spend)

While purse strings may be tightening for some, Surrey families still have money for fun. The average household claimed to spend $1,393 on these non-essential categories like entertainment and recreation in September, plus an additional $369 dining out. Considering Surrey’s ongoing rapid growth, this translates into significant potential for companies considering expanding their business into Surrey. 

Graph: Average Monthly Household Purchases

Our population is growing at a rapid pace, so much so that we’re set to outgrow Vancouver well within the next 20 years. This growing population is also younger, higher skilled, and are looking to start families. They seek unique experiences, and they can afford to spend money on quality goods. This means that we’re going to need a lot more places like movie theaters, bars and nightclubs, concert halls, and specialty retail opportunities.  

Restaurants and Grocery Offer Low Hanging Fruit 

Surrey households shop locally quite a bit, but the nature of today’s marketing means that retailers must compete with online shopping and our neighboring cities. It’s important to keep in mind that due to our proximity to other population centers, including Washington State, we can also attract shopping dollars from south of the border as well. 

Graph: Spending In & Out of Surrey – Distribution of Spending  (sorted in order of monthly spend)

Here we see that if you open a business in Surrey, you are likely to attract a growing base of loyal local shoppers. While most of the shopping occurs in the downtown core, quite a bit also occurs in our other town centers, like Guildford and South Surrey both, of which have large shopping centers. Considering the amount of rapid transit infrastructure and densification underway outside of downtown Surrey, we anticipate that this trend with begin to shift as more opportunities for new businesses arise around future transit hubs, especially in Cloverdale, Fleetwood, and Newton.  

By understanding why people are leaving our city to shop, we can identify the greatest opportunities. Interestingly, we find that restaurant and entertainment spending represent the two categories with the greatest share of spending outside Surrey at over 30% each. Our residents suggested that better selection, availability, and quality as the primary reasons for shopping outside of the city. 

Our model reveals an exciting opportunity for Restaurant and Entertainment Businesses to seize an extra $52 million monthly in Surrey. When considering all categories, this translates to a staggering $2.4 billion annually, representing the untapped local spending desires of Surrey residents.

To expand on this, we explicitly asked respondents what sorts of businesses would entice increased spending in Surrey rather than traveling to our neighbors. Not surprisingly, food and entertainment ranked high, but there is also an undeniable appetite for more groceries, apparel, and accessories. These are specific areas where it’s more difficult for online retailers to compete, which in turn represents the biggest opportunity for investment. 

Graph: Additional Store Types & Expanded Retail Offerings that would entice increased spending in Surrey

All the data points to an unmet and growing demand for local shopping. If you’re a major food and entertainment business, a high-end grocery chain, or a specialty retail business we would love to help you find a home in Surrey.  

Why Retail and Entertainment Businesses Thrive in Surrey  

Surrey provides significant advantages for retail businesses looking to start up or expand. Here are some of the main reasons why: 

Population Growth Supplies Workforce and Customers

As one of the fastest growing cities in BC, Surrey's population growth fuels increasing consumer demand and a larger customer base for retailers. Growth projections indicate Surrey will surpass Vancouver's population within 20 years. 

Cultural Diversity Varies Demand

Surrey is known for its cultural diversity with a mix of residents from various ethnic backgrounds. This diversity can create opportunities for retail businesses to cater to a wide range of preferences and tastes, offering products that appeal to a multicultural customer base. 

Attractive Business Climate

The City of Surrey has been actively working on economic development initiatives to attract businesses and investment. This commitment to fostering a business-friendly environment benefits retail enterprises through increased access to support and resources. 

Infrastructure and Accessibility

Surrey is well-connected with major transportation routes, including highways and public transit. Good transportation infrastructure can attract both customers and businesses, facilitating the movement of goods and people to and from retail locations. The upcoming SkyTrain and Bus Rapid Transit routes will further connect Surrey. 

Urban Development

With the development of new commercial and residential spaces, opportunities exist for retail businesses to establish themselves in emerging and vibrant neighbourhoods. Curious to learn more about neighbourhoods in Surrey? Check out our interactive display tool.  

World Class Quality of Life

Surrey offers a high quality of life, with a range of amenities, parks, and recreational facilities. A positive living environment contributes to a thriving local economy by attracting and retaining residents who in turn support local retail businesses. 

Let’s Discuss Opportunities for Your Business in Surrey

Opportunities abound for retail businesses as Surrey grows into a major metropolitan hub. If you’re considering setting up shop in British Columbia, the Invest Surrey team can help. Let’s talk about how your business can flourish in Surrey by tapping into unmet demand and leveraging our growing consumer base. We’re here to help you startup or expand successfully!