Nanaimo is the regional retail and service centre for central and northern Vancouver Island. The retail sector is the second largest employment sector in Nanaimo, providing jobs for 7,380 local residents which accounts for approximately 14.9% of the total labour market (2022 Esri). Currently, 869 establishments in Nanaimo hold a wholesale or retail business license, representing 13% of total business licenses in the City of Nanaimo.

There are several factors which influence Nanaimo’s role as a regional retail and service centre. The city is the largest urban area north of Victoria, with a growing population base. All major Island transportation corridors lead to Nanaimo and the City is a gateway between the Island and the mainland.

The sector has benefited from an expanding market and positive economic conditions. The market meets the needs of 260,000 people who live within a one-hour drive of Nanaimo.

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