Retail survey pinpoints trends 

"We're a community that loves to complain" - retailer Sue Adams

If guests or residents have something to complain about in the resort’s shopping experience, it’s that stores and restaurants are too pricey.

Whether that’s their perception or a reality, the complaint remains a familiar refrain and is highlighted in the initial results from Whistler’s retail study, commissioned by the municipality last year.

The study, which was presented at an open house Tuesday night, also reveals several facets about the retail experience in Whistler and how it has changed and will continue to change.

"We’re a community that loves to complain and I don’t believe that we have the facts, so if we can get some of this information out I think it’s very useful," said local retailer Sue Adams, one of roughly 40 people who attended the open house.

One example of misconceptions in Whistler about its retail space is that there’s too much of it.

According to the study however there is less than five per cent vacancy in the village. The current vacancies are in poor locations with limited pedestrian circulation, which indicates there is a demand for more space in the village.

The report also predicts that Whistler’s consumer is shifting from an international resort guest to a predominantly northwest North American visitor.

At the same time Whistler offers a "limited diversity" of merchandise with a quarter of the stores labeled as sporting goods and apparel related, perhaps confirming the perception that there’s too much fleece in Whistler.

These are just a few highlights of a study filled with a wealth of relevant information about the retail experience in Whistler.

Senior municipal planner Mike Kirkegaard said the information in the report and the feedback from the community will form the basis of recommendations and strategies to guide council in the future.

"It’s a good starting point for going forward and developing recommendations and strategies that meet our priorities and directions from Whistler 2020," he said.

The report will be presented to council in the coming weeks and recommendations will follow in the months to come.

To find the 80-page study, which is easy to read and comes complete with bar graphs and pie charts, go to the municipal web site at www.whistler.ca, go to Community Living and then to Top Projects. There is a feedback form online which can be filled in.

Staff will be presenting the report to council in the coming weeks.

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