Saskatoon has a lot of barriers to overcome before grocers decide to set up shop in the downtown core, according to a study submitted to city council.
The Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Agency (SREDA) did the market research for the city, interviewing experts in the grocery industry about what it would take to bring a store downtown.
The study concluded there isn’t a large enough population in the city’s core to justify a grocery shop.
“Most respondents expressed concern about the lack of foot-traffic and insufficient population density to provide the sales volume that makes operations economically feasible,” the report writes.
The latest estimates of Saskatoon’s downtown population stands at 3,372 residents.
City administration forwarded the report to council’s planning, development and community services committee Monday.
They suggested the dilemma of bringing a grocery store downtown was a chicken-and-egg scenario.
“A grocery store relies on a local population regularly shopping at the store. At the same time, people want to live in areas that have amenities such as grocery stores,” administration said in their submission.
“The current population is insufficient to support a grocery store and make it viable long enough for more residential developments to occur in the area.”
Interviewees told SREDA a downtown grocery store would have to rely on a business clientele looking for a quick meal, meaning the average purchase would be smaller than in a suburban grocery store.
Several of the people approached for interviews had operated or managed downtown grocery stores in Saskatoon and other cities in the past.
The SREDA study also found grocers were concerned over transportation and storage of food, high rent prices on downtown properties, parking availability and safety.