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Nanaimo is the regional retail and service centre for central and northern Vancouver Island.  The retail industry is the largest employment sector in the city, providing jobs for 6,135 local residents (which accounts for 15% of the local labour force), with 899 retail businesses as of September 2009.

Nanaimo businesses serve a primary trade area of over 146,169 people.  Secondary and tertiary markets encompass an additional 213,301 people.  Collectively, these markets grew in size at an average rate of .61% per annum between 2001 and 2006.

Retail expenditures in the Nanaimo region are estimated to be approximately $2,281.6 billion in 2009.  Per capital retail spending decreased from $17,500 to $17,000 while per capita income increased from $25,700 to $27,800 from 2008 to 2009.

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