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Urban, Suburban, Rural: A Look at the Influence of Urbanism on Consumer Spending and Preferences
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Urban, Suburban, Rural: A Look at the Influence of Urbanism on Consumer Spending and Preferences

Canada is made up of 10 provinces and three territories, and its borders touch the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans. With over 35 million residents living in almost 10 million square kilometres, Canadians have an abundance of choice when it comes to choosing where to live. Their choice defines them as urban, suburban or rural households.

Households in Canada that feel they are living in an urban space with what they perceive as easy access to amenities are more likely to see areas of high density population, condominiums, office towers, subway systems, minimal green space and are home to 20.1% of households. Comparatively, 43.8% of households in Canada define themselves as living in suburban areas, which are known for having a medium density, subdivisions and shopping malls. Lastly, rural areas, home to 16.2% of the population, have low density of population, country roads and agricultural land.

Given the different lifestyles of the different residents, shopping habits vary notably. People living in urban areas of Canada with more convenient access to stores make more trips per household per year (170.2) than their rural counterparts, who make an average 162.5 trips. To balance out fewer trips, however, rural consumers spend more per trip: $57, compared with $47 for urban dwellers.

In looking at what shoppers are putting in their baskets, we see marked differences as well. For example, urban consumers buy more specialty food and drinks than the other two groups, while suburban households spend more on lunchbox snacks and dinner accompaniments. Rural dwellers, on the other hand, buy more pantry staples and pet foods.

Where consumers live in Canada has an effect on their shopping habits and preferences. Savvy retailers should be aware of these differences and ensure that their stores are catering to the wants and needs of the consumers who shop in them.