A Downtown Victoria Business Association report found that 51 per cent of businesses surveyed reported high profits in 2022, despite many citing safety that concerns have negatively impacted downtown.
The 11-page report published by the DVBA found members ranked “Customer perception of downtown” as the number one factor negatively affecting their business.
In that same report, 51 per cent reported higher net profits in 2022 compared to 2021.
“There is a tale of two downtowns. There’s certainly the public narrative out in the region about downtown. Is it safe? Is it clean?” said Jeff Bray, CEO of the DVBA.
In the report, data from the Victoria Police Department showed that reported calls for service for social order, violence, and property has decreased.
However, data from VicPD’s Community Safety Report found that perception of crime levels has increased or stayed the same.
“The reality is this a challenge that downtown and main streets across North America are faced with, but certainly the city is investing major dollars into downtown and that’s something that we are very encouraged by,” said Bray.
Best Coast Outfitters on Yates Street has been in business for a year and has dealt with a few incidents, including broken windows. However, the manager said foot traffic has been high, and they don’t plan on moving locations.
“It’s actually been really good and we’ve experienced a steady increase of sales since we got here,” said Asjer Pjetursson, store manager.
Nancy Szabo manages Maker’s near to the Inner Harbour. She told CHEK News that her profits have doubled since opening up in 2022.
Security is a concern for her shop, but said that staffing is her biggest problem.
“A lot of people have got two, three jobs. So it’s a real juggle and struggle to try and keep staff. We do pay a fair wage so that’s at least a bonus for us,” said Szabo.
She added her workers don’t want to leave their other jobs in hopes of possibly getting more hours at their other workplace.
The DVBA reports that only 33.3 per cent of businesses reported an increase in staffing levels, an increase from 2021.
According to the study 35.5 per cent of businesses reported no change in staffing levels, and 29.4 per cent reported a decline.
The number of business licenses handed out in 2022 has also increased.
“The actual data shows that by enlarge, business performance is strong and stronger this year than last year,” said Bray.
Tourism levels have also increased. Data shows the total number of foot traffic in Victoria was nearly 1.5 million in 2022, up from over 670,000 in 2021.