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Fort Erie Economic Development & Tourism Services

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Media Release


FORT ERIE, Ontario, March 19, 2003 – Fort Erie Economic Development and
Tourism Services (EDTS) General Manager, Jim Thibert, reported on the
highlights of the Corporation’s 2002 Retail Market Study as guest speaker at
the Fort Erie Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting.

“The Study’s findings are significant”, explained Thibert. “We identified, for
example, that in the period 1940 to 1990, 1.0 retail business per year was
established. This rate grew so that in the decade 1991 to 2000, 5.8 businesses
per year started. In 2001-2002, 18 new retail businesses were established. If
retail growth continues at this rate over the next ten years we could find ourselves
with about 180 new retail businesses in Fort Erie generating an additional $19
million into the local economy”.

Other highlights included the unique nature of retailing in Fort Erie. “The norm in
retail is to experience your highest sales around the Christmas season”, stated
Thibert. “Fort Erie is unique in this regard because four of our five highest sales
months are in the spring-summer season, followed by Christmas. We were able
to attribute this to the influx of American permanent seasonal residents and
American consumers in the Town”.

Two of the Study’s major recommendations flow from this fact and include
developing shoulder seasons and launching a US “Shop Fort Erie” campaign.
“We recognize that these are opportunities for us to grow our retail sales revenue
as well as stop leakage,” explained Thibert. “We have approximately 5,500 people
per day that leave the Town to work elsewhere. This outflow translates into
approximately $100 million in lost sales to Fort Erie businesses. We stop this
leakage by growing Fort Erie business”.

The Study’s findings were derived from one-on-one interviews with 141 or 73% of
Fort Erie’s retailers. “This is an extremely high participation rate for a research
project of this kind”, stated Thibert. “Local retailers really embraced this project.
We’ll repeat the study in two year’s time and compare it to the baseline that we’ve
established with this Study so we can continue to help Fort Erie business fine tune
their sales and marketing strategies.

Completed in-house, the study’s survey was executed by co-operative student
placements from Brock University’s Economics Department with support from an
MBA student, Adam Joon. The project was supervised by Jennifer Patrick (MBA),
EDTS Economic Development Officer. Herb McGirr, EDTS Chairperson, explained
“We completed the study in-house because we have the economics expertise in the
GM and staff have the credentials and experience. Because the EDTS has this level
of competency, we’re able to launch research initiatives like this one. Had we hired
a consultant to complete this, we would have spent about $40,000. The Study is
extremely important to the Town and will underscore much of our future development

The Retail Market Study is one of two studies the EDTS will be releasing early in
2003. The Corporation’s US Investment Study which examines the detailed nature
of American investment in the Town is slated for release in May.