If you’ve paid attention to the newspapers and evening news over the past 6 months, you’re probably aware that times are tough. Terms such as financial meltdown, bailout, stimulus packages, the greater depression and catching the falling the knife are overused to such a degree that they almost numb our ability to appreciate the current state of the global economy. Luckily, Kingston has been relatively sheltered from this disaster, save for all of the investors whose portfolios lost nearly 25% of their overall value. Our manufacturing sector has remained unchanged with no announcements of massive layoffs, housing prices continue to dodge national trends, and capital spending on large projects has soldiered on. That said, we are not immune to a bit of suffering, and like any battle, Kingston has begun to register a few casualties. Or have we?
According to experts; assuming that these people are different than those who did not foresee the economic crisis, Canadians are hunkering down and tightening their belts. Some believe that this will have a positive impact on health, as more people will be forced to take the bus, walk to work, and even make better choices when shopping at the grocery store. The end result is less expendable income for everything from dinner and movie on date night, to a new pair of shoes just because you saw them in the store window. With the remainder of the local economy holding steady, the state of consumer retail and restaurants can help serve as a slight sign of the times.
Now before I go on, I want to acknowledge that businesses come and go year after year in downtown Kingston, throughout the township, the Cataraqui Town Centre etc… That said, in recent times restaurants and bars such as Quizzino’s, Curry Village, Filthy McNasty’s, and the (short lived) Living Room have all closed up shop. Has the rate of closures in the food service sector increased, or are these losses simply par for the course? That’s a good question, which I unfortunately do not have the answer to. One could easily argue that the restaurant biz is not extremely profitable, and that these places were simply teetering on the brink of dissolution for some time. In any case, I don’t think an examination of these closures should exclude the possibility that they are in some way related to the overall economy.
Moving on, the retail sector around Kingston is an entirely different beast. The possible closure of the Body Shop (why else would they have a For Lease sign posted?), Dansk, and possible loss of 3 Radio Shack The Source by Circuit CIty outlets is not as troublesome as one might think. This is owing to the fact that there has simply been more noticeable retail growth around Kingston including Urban Outfitters, and the Kings Crossing outlet to name a few. In general, I believe that retail growth has outpaced closures within the sector. But are these really indications of trouble brewing, or simply part of the normal ebb and flow of our economic landscape?
What do you think about the health of the local economy? Are you spending as much as you used to? For those of you who work for or own a retail outlet / restaurant, have you noticed any change lately? Change the world by commenting below.