Top small business trends to look out for in Halifax this year

6 min read
Tanya Jamal

Are you a small business owner in Halifax wondering what the hot business trends will be for 2021? Great! Stick with me and I’ll lead you through the areas of consumer interest that can help sustain your small business in these uncertain times.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a game-changer in many areas of our lives, but especially so in our economic activities.

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The pandemic has changed the way we buy

Once the economy opens up again, all eyes will be on the changed spending behaviors of consumers.

While many of the same products and services will once again be available, a few things have shifted:

  • How these products are accessed
  • Where they are purchased and consumed

These are the key lenses all small business owners should be looking through in order to have a successful 2021.

Now let’s look at several sectors that are expected to thrive in Halifax next year.

1. Alcohol sales and delivery on demand

The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation reported unusually high earnings in the second quarter of 2020 due to people staying home to drink when the bars and restaurants were closed.

Until there’s a vaccine, COVID will be a factor in the drinking habits of Nova Scotians.

Masked man unloading boxes from truck

A sizable portion of Halifax’s older drinking-aged population will continue to avoid bars and restaurants due to personal risk factors. These consumers will continue to demand alcoholic beverages to drink at home.

Canada’s small craft beer companies have spawned a wonderfully efficient alcohol delivery sector that can be accessed by the touch of a few smartphone or tablet keys. On-demand delivery is likely one of the business trends that will outlive COVID-19, once the economy begins to solidly open up in 2021 and beyond.

Related: 73% of Canadian business owners feel optimistic about reopening after lockdown

2. Online marketplaces and pop-up retail

Digital and interactive media firm has been watching growth industries in Halifax for the last few years. This includes gaming of course, but it also includes:

  • Web portals that connect people to services (e.g. TaskRabbit, Fiverr)
  • Websites that connect people to products (e.g. Amazon, Faire, iCraft Gifts)

With stagnant employment rates in 2020 fueling a reduction in spending in Halifax, many consumers have turned into more thoughtful purchasers. While still focused on quality, they’re more willing to make an effort to seek out secondhand, gently-used items — or even barter for items before spending on things that are newly made.

Small businesses can capitalize on niche markets to create marketplace websites that connect consumers to services and in-demand products in their communities.

The pop-up revolution

No Days Off Apparel pop-up in Halifax
Pop-ups make it possible for small online-only businesses to have a local presence.
Source: The Coast

Small brick-and-mortar retail businesses took a big hit during COVID19, and one way they have combated that is with the trend of the pop-up market.

Pop-up shops are small, temporary versions of traditional retail stores that compliment a small business’s online presence. Small ventures can sell their wares in person without having to commit to a long-term rent contract.

The Coast blog features stories about small Halifax businesses that have used pop-ups to present their products directly to consumers by going directly to where customers live and work in their communities.

3. Home-based exercise and intra-provincial travel

Reports from mid-size and small retailers, mom-and-pop stores and online businesses all confirm that exercise equipment is flying off the shelves and into the homes of Haligonians.

Trampolines, bikes, treadmills — the home exercise business trend is a focus for both young and old.

Lockdowns and isolation have taught us that we need to keep active to stay physically and mentally healthy.

So anyone looking to start or grow a fitness-related business might consider adding:

  • Equipment sales
  • Exercise programs
  • Virtual coaching
  • Equipment maintenance

All will be among the top business trends in 2021.

Travel-related goods and services

The upcoming year will also see an increase in independent intra-provincial travel, as families or bubbled groups transport themselves throughout the city and province for a break from the everyday.

The local demand for RVs and boats, including rentals and sales, will continue to be steady and grow. Warmer months will see that trend expand to include camping equipment rental and sales, as well as all the necessary paraphernalia and services related to travel.

4. Home goods and services

Last year, reported on Halifax’s growing demand for “... purpose-built rental and single-family housing.” It stands to reason then, that pursuits such as home decorating, renovation and goods and services related to staying in and getting cozy will be a business trend in the new year.

Analysts also predict rising interest in things like:

Given how much time we’re all spending at home, it’s likely the trend for convenience and comfort items will continue to be a focus in 2021.

Underpinning all of the 2021 trends for Halifax is the knowledge that the city finally reached an equitable balance of its once predominantly elderly population with a solid mix of new, young immigrants near the end of 2019.

Why is that important to know for small business owners watching out for business trends? Simply put, this means a more balanced consumer market moving forward into next year, as well as a consumer base with plenty of potential for disposable income to spend on your products and services.

Rise to meet the changes in 2021

With things looking cautiously optimistic for a COVID19 economic recovery, Halifax small business owners can take advantage of a number of business trends to help them establish and grow their businesses in 2021.

Major trends for small business in Halifax for 2021 will include alcohol sales and delivery; more business for online marketplaces and pop-up retail sites; recreational experiences and intra-provincial travel; and an increase in home-based exercise and leisure activities.

Plan now to capitalize on these business trends in the new year!