Downtown Toronto Spending More Than Doubled in 2022

City of Toronto

Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area (DYBIA)

Release Date

Monday, February 13, 2023


Transactions surged across the three largest economic sectors in Downtown Yonge last fall, as retail, service and foodservice recorded $70 million in sales – a 101% increase from the first quarter of the year.

According to data from the Downtown Yonge BIA, an increase in pedestrian traffic on Yonge St. resulted in a corresponding jump in spending, with nearly 6 million transactions across the three sectors from September through December.

“People were downtown in big numbers and evidently they brought their wallets,” says Pauline Larsen, Executive Director of the Downtown Yonge BIA. “This was a much-needed boost to the economy, and we hope the momentum continues in 2023 and beyond.”

In total for the year, nearly $300 million was spent in Downtown Yonge’s three largest sectors. December saw the highest spend of any month, with the $25 million in December accounting for 11% of the total spend for the year.

The holiday season was particularly busy for shoppers, with the retail sector peaking at $10.6 million in December – a 378% increase in spend compared to January 2022.

Foodservice also peaked in December, taking in $8.6 million – up by 350% from January data. 

Services saw a 12% increase in spend in December compared to January 2022, at about $6 million, which was slightly lower than the peak in August at $6.2 million.

Pedestrian Counts Up

The spending surge aligned with a significant increase in pedestrian traffic on Yonge St. in December, continuing a year-long trend.

As reported in January, between December 23, 2022 and January 2, 2023, more than 1.7 million pedestrians were counted on Yonge from College St. to Queen St. – a 39% increase from the same week in 2021. Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve saw big crowds: 190,794 counted on Dec. 26 (an increase of 150% from 2021) and 191,554 counted on Dec. 31 (up by 62%).

“Not only were the pedestrian counts much higher than last year, they compare favourably with pre-pandemic traffic – which is a very encouraging sign,” Larsen said.

In 2019, the Dec 23-Jan 2 week saw 1.5 million pedestrians – a figure 11% lower than in 2022.  Similarly, for Boxing Day 2019 pedestrian traffic was at 160,165 (19% lower than 2022), and New Year’s Eve counted 155,371 pedestrians (23% fewer than in 2022).

About Downtown Yonge

The Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area (DYBIA) is a catalyst for creating vibrant urban experiences and events in the heart of downtown Toronto. Representing more than 2,000 businesses and their employees, as well as the broader community of residents, students and visitors, the DYBIA champions attractive public spaces, popular events, safety and cleanliness. It plays an active role both at street level and in boardrooms, advocating for a thriving and diverse community of retailers, restaurants and services.


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