Groan

How come I am forced to read this headline in the T&T:  “Retail drives Metro’s success“.

I can’t believe that this article quotes a UdeM economist suggesting that Moncton’s economic success is due to retail – although I find the piece a bit confusing like the writer wants to extrapolate.

If you are doing a serious economic analysis on the retail sector you might come to a different conclusion.  Retail is among the lowest (if not the lowest) economic value sectors of an economy (value added).  It is also among the lowest paying. 

We need retail.  I agree with economic developers attempting to attract niche retailers.  But it is silly and dangerous to say that retail drives Moncton’s success.  And if this kind of crappy reportage leads to economic development agencies focusing more on retail and less on industries with real economic value, it’s a loss.

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8 Responses to Groan

  1. Susan says:

    Are “Metro” and “Moncton” synonymous? (from an ignorant Freddy beach resident)

  2. The retail sector has undeniably transformed the city and – despite the fact that it’s a low-value sector – is a major source of jobs and income in the city.

    And – more to the point – it’s hard to see what _other_ sector is actually driving growth in the region. Agriculture? Mining? Fisheries?

    I agree with you that we should be emphasizing development in areas other than retain. But we should frame this appropriately. Retain has, from my perspective, given the city a basis on which to build other industries, and especially light manufacturing and industrial, and some knowledge-based industries.

  3. Yes. The T&T has taken to the term ‘metro’ – metropolitan area.

  4. I would agree that retail plays a support role for urban centres like Moncton.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Alan Cochrane is a God.

  6. Scott Mackay says:

    Though I think in Moncton’s case, retail is a unique asset, especially now that the Confederation bridge and the twinned highway allows shoppers from other provinces to make two or three day plans to shop in the hub city. So it’s good for the restaurant, entertainment and hotel business as well.

    It’s kinda like Buffalo used to be to parts of southern Ontario back in the day.

  7. mikel says:

    I miss the days when David did more critical commentary on the media in New Brunswick. This is a ‘puff piece’ which they are noted for, filled with inconsistencies and gibberish.

    First though, its true that Moncton has some major Shopping attractions, namely Champlain Place, which has ALWAYS brought shoppers from other cities that lack similar malls. It was only ten years ago that Fredericton even HAD a major mall, the FM was largely just a large strip mall. Malls are undergoing very fundamental changes, they are becoming ‘attractions’ and NBers are well known to travel to attractions. That explains why the Miramichi council has been talking about retail, and why that is more of a problem than David admits.

    Second, its completely CRAZY to talk about Moncton as some kind of singular wonder. Notice they even say “Moncton’s economy to that of similar sized communities…OUTSIDE OF THE MAJOR METROPOLITAN AREAS.” Southern ontario is essentially one big metropolitan area, so this means ‘lets get rid of any community that may actually do better than Moncton’. Waterloo has about the same population and its growth has continued unabated, and much of that growth is NOT retail but industrial expansion-RIM, think tanks, university growth, etc. The university of Waterloo is building THREE new buildings for programs. But lets disqualify them because thats right next to Kitchener. SOME southern ontario cities are being hit hard, but most are still seeing huge retail growth because its cheap land and there are usually desperate people to fill them (for many unemployed the only option is thinking of some store to open).

    Most importantly, they even admit IN THE ARTICLE that their main theme is wrong- the author cites the workforce, the airport, the central location, the highway, low housing prices…notice not in there is ‘great shopping’. Because no business looking to relocate would ever consider such a thing. What do you think you CAN”T buy in virtually ANY canadian city? Go look at the store directory of Champlain Place, its virtually identical with the main shopping centres of virtually ANY city.

    This is essentially the kind of placebo story the Irvings are noted for “look how wonderful everything is, look how lucky you are to be living here” which is supposed to lead to “so what have you got to complain about?”

    What they DON”T talk about are things like: while its ‘worth’ 2.3 billion IN the local economy, most of that doesn’t STAY in the community. Wal Mart takes it out of the country, Sears takes it out of the city. Franchise fees are now enormous for chains, those are big dollars that leave.

    What is left (ALL that is left since most big box stores don’t get supplied locally) is retail JOBS, which are minimum wage which people can barely survive on. Retail work is some of the hardest work out there and they get no benefits, have no security, few growth opportunities, and non-existent savings. They are mostly filled by people who can’t find work in their chosen (and educated for) field. That’s not picking on Moncton, thats the retail story all over North America.

    And again, that doesn’t even get into the cannibalization of successful malls like Champlain Place that eat up shoppers from other cities, which leads to LESS of that growth for THOSE cities. Notice they don’t say much about those ‘niche’ players, because with so many chains I doubt very much that too many niche stores are raking in the millions. They also don’t mention things like pensioners that can no longer afford necessary services because their property tax has increased higher than virtually any other city in Canada. I know that sounds pretty critical, even cynical, but David USED to do most of that dirty work:) But to put it into perspective: apart from, say, distracting teenagers and providing SOME measure of entertainment for kids (which is available in other forms as well), somebody here write a list of five things thats GOOD about the retail industry.

  8. Scott Mackay says:

    Then there is mall slogans like: Mic Mac Mall “The largest mall east of Montreal, this three story mall will meet all your shopping needs.”

    or

    Amherst Centre Mall “largest mall east of Moncton, west of Halifax.” Zzzzzzzzzz

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