Exploring the relationships among changing retail formats, consumer travel behaviour, and recent "smart growth" planning strategies requires specialized data to describe both the distribution of retail facilities by type and location over different periods, and data on consumer travel flows.
Data describing the geographic and economic characteristics of the GTA's retail structure have been drawn from Ryerson University's Centre for the Study of Commercial Activity (CSCA) retail databases (see www.csca.ryerson.ca). Providing a comprehensive inventory of retail activities in the GTA since 1993, the CSCA databases have been used by many researchers to trace the evolution of new retail formats in the Canadian retail economy (see Jones et al., 1994; Jones and Doucet, 1998, 1999, 2000; Simmons and Hernandez, 2004a; Simmons and Hernandez, 2004b). In particular, an annual field survey of power centres, carried out by CSCA staff, that tracks changes in the number, size, and mix of tenants, offers a unique glimpse into the evolution of power retail in Canada. In 2005, the CSCA collected data on more than 50,000 retail locations in the GTA. Each record contains information on the location, size, type of business (using the NAICS codes), and setting (mall, power centre, free-standing, retail strip).
The CSCA databases are the most comprehensive source of power retail data in Canada. In 2007, the CSCA collection was extended to cover the entire Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH).2 This expansion will facilitate future analysis of retail change within the area subject to the provincial government's urban growth management policies. This report, however, because it uses time-series data going back to the 1990s, analyzes historical change within the GTA only.
1. The North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) was developed during the late 1990s to replace the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system. The United States, Canada, and Mexico developed NAICS to simplify the comparative analysis of economic activity.
2. The Greater Golden Horseshoe comprises the GTA (the City of Toronto and the Regional Municipalities of Halton, Peel, York, and Durham), the Cities of Hamilton and Kawartha Lakes, the Regional Municipalities of Niagara and Waterloo, and Haldimand, Brant, Wellington, Dufferin, Simcoe, Peterborough, and Northumberland Counties.