Millennials Changing Canadian Retail Inside Out

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By Dayana Cadet

Millennials make up over 37 percent of the Canadian labour force. By the year 2020, they are expected to make up 50 percent of the global workforce. However, experts estimate that the vast majority – 61 percent, to be exact – expect to leave their jobs in the next 4 years.



The fact of the matter is; the majority of Millennials keep a day-time job while pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams, with 50 percent of them planning to start their own business over the next 10 years. As a result, they’ve completely changed the face of business – more specifically, retail – from the inside out.

Dubbed the next generation of industry disrupters and game changers, Millennial business owners are making a real world impact by using their “side hustles” to shift traditional retail to fit their priorities and values – ones that are almost diametrically opposed to their predecessors.


This concept of holding down the proverbial fort and keeping a 9-5 while pursuing passion projects or business ventures on the side is the framework for what we’ve come to know as the share economy.

The sharing economy (also known as the peer economy) allows consumers to access products or services through online marketplaces. For the business owner, not only does the rent or purchase of their product or service through this avenue provide a wider audience but also a steady flow of income on the side. Companies like Airbnb and Uber have disrupted commerce by democratizing it where previously major corporate behemoths had entire control.

One thing to remember is that what often differentiates one generation from the other are the environmental factors that have shaped their lives. For their part, Millennials have been the most impacted by a lack of secure jobs in recent times. In fact, 21 percent of small business owners in Canada said they started their business after losing their jobs – all the more reason for the emergence of business models like the share economy and its successor, the gig economy, where industry-specific entrepreneurs can sign up for tasks or “gigs” best suited to their skillset and availability often at a time when they are unable to get steady work anywhere else.

Additionally, where old world retailers offer the promise of impeccable quality goods – for a price – that will last you a lifetime, Millennials, who often have less capital, have grown to value access over ownership. As a result, businesses are putting more of a focus on providing access to a wide variety of high quality goods for the right amount of time and/or for an affordable price – whether that comes in the form of a designer apparel renting service or a luxury beauty subscription box.


Millennials are often called the “me” generation – a trait that is often frowned upon in the workplace – but how does it fare for their own businesses?

While Generation Zers are lauded as “digital natives”, Millennials are known as digital pioneers. It’s no secret that technology has had a dramatic impact on our world over the past few decades, and Millennials have taken that and used it to their and their consumers benefit.

Nowadays, almost any product can be customized. If not fitted to a consumer’s exacting standards, it can at least be personalized to them.

In addition to changing the face of retail, some experts believe Millennials are changing the face of Canadian economy as a whole. In 2014, Deputy Chief Economist at CIBC, Benjamin Tal, estimated that as many as 150,000 new startups could be launched in Canada within the next decade, increasing our gross domestic product while, hopefully, reducing the youth unemployment rate which has averaged 14.11 percent from 1976 until now.

About the author, Dayana Cadet:

As Hubba’s Millennial Retail Expert, helping brands connect to the world’s largest consumer demographic is where Dayana thrives. With 5+ years’ experience working in many different aspects of luxury retail, Dayana has seen first hand how her generation has evolved into the mobile-first, omnichannel consumers they are today. Being one such consumer, she has an especially keen eye on emerging retail trends as well as what approaches are most effective when speaking to Millennials. Her work can be found on and trade publications such as Chain Store Age, Retail Minded and My Total Retail.



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