Population Growth and Experiences Continue to Surprise

Population Growth and Pent-Up Demand for Experiences Drive Canada and U.S. Retail Markets

June 25, 2024

Looking for more retail insights?

Never miss an update with JLL's Retail Perspectives newsletter.

Canada has experienced a significant increase in its working-age population, by more than half-a-million people in the first five months of 2024. This is a remarkable 42 percent increase in growth over the same period last year. If this trend continues, we could see a whopping 1.2 million working-age people added to the population this year.

Canada’s strategy of using immigration to avoid a potential downturn boosts overall consumer demand, and this accelerated population growth suggests a potential upside in retail sales growth through 2024 despite a decline in household spending. Even if not immediately employed, these newcomers will contribute to the demand for essential goods and services.

In the United States, immigration is similarly expected to be the primary driver of population growth in the next decade. The U.S. Congress recently revised net immigration figures from 2024 to 2026, boosting the size and growth of the working-age population and consequently benefiting the retail sector.

As we move to the next section, accelerating population growth is helping to drive demand for food services.

Continued Growth in Food Services Expansion

In Canada, food services continue to dominate expansion announcements, with Canadian businesses actively searching for new locations across the country. Food services operators are surpassing retailers in terms of expansion plans. More than half of the concepts announcing expansion fall under the food services category, particularly quick-service establishments.

Quick-service businesses plan to introduce a wide range of concepts, including Italian food, burgers, coffee shops, and healthy food options. Among retailers, health and personal care businesses have taken the lead, with a particular focus on skincare products. The apparel and entertainment categories have shown the highest demand for space, with searches reaching up to 40,000 square feet.

In the U.S., almost 2,000 restaurant openings have already been announced for 2024, primarily from quick-service restaurants like McDonald's, Chipotle, WingStop, and coffee chain Dutch Bros.

Click here to view the food services infographic PDF!

Pent-Up Demand for Flights Remains Strong

In Canada, we continue to see rapid growth in traffic for flights overseas. Screened-passenger volumes at Canada's eight largest airports for flights to destinations beyond the U.S. saw an 11.4 percent increase in April 2024 over April 2023, and were also 11.2 percent higher than levels in April 2019.

A total of 4.3 million travelers passed through pre-board security screening, marking a 4.0 percent increase from April 2023. However, the number of screened passengers for domestic flights appears to be slowing after the surge in 2021 and 2022.

Meanwhile, U.S. airlines expect to carry 271 million passengers globally this summer, a 6.3 percent increase from last summer. This new record surpasses the previous one set in summer 2023. Over the Memorial Day weekend, U.S. airports reported a record number of screened airline travelers.

Contact Heli Brecailo

National Retail Research Manager