SWG Property: Brick-And-Mortar Stores Remain Resilient Despite Disruptions

Dec 2021

In the face of challenges, the retail industry has shown agility and resilience in adapting to the market and customer needs, including the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.


A recent study released by RBC outlined some of the top retail trends in Canada for 2020. Here are three key observations from that study.


1) Government transfers have boosted household purchase power


About 600K people lost jobs due to the pandemic first wave. But government support programs have provided a significant offset to lost wages. In fact, household disposable incomes increased substantially during the third quarter of 2020 as government transfers outweighed lost wages.


While employment declined last December, household disposable income likely increased again. That’s because most job losses involved those earning less than the minimum $500/week under the newly expanded SSI and CRB programs.


As long as those income supports remain in place, household incomes are expected to remain elevated until labour markets can more sustainably recover as vaccine distribution allows containment measures to be eased more gradually. (1)


2) Restrictions have eased up and are less frequent compared to spring 2020


The second wave of shutdowns has been less restrictive than the first. Curbside pickup has generally been an option in regions where non-essential retailers have been closed.


As the holiday shopping season progressed, restrictions increased – typically with a few days’ notice to allow for stockpiling before closures.


While some regions restrict the sale of “essential” retail products to big box stores that sell groceries, big box stores have largely been left open. Thus, some of the resilience reflects a shift in spending to larger retailers. This is what happened in the spring of 2020 when general merchandise store sales surged to over 15% of total retail sales from under 12% before the nationwide lockdown, according to RBC. (1)


3) Brick-and-Mortar retailers saw non-store sales boost


In addition, stores historically more focused on in-person shopping have increased their online sales capacity and used alternative delivery methods like curbside pickup. Simultaneously, customers have become more comfortable shopping online. During the pandemic, e-commerce sales more than doubled their year-ago levels in April before calming somewhat during the rest of 2020. As more stores closed to in-person shopping, in-store sales grew to 7.4% of total sales in November 2020 – the highest share since May.


Non-store sales were boosted by more than just online retailers. Over half of the growth in online sales came from brick-and-mortar retailers. In fact, even in the midst of the spring shutdown, spending appeared to increase significantly through April – that is before restrictions on retail stores were formally eased – as both businesses and consumers became more comfortable with transacting online. Due to those changes, the retail sector has likely become more resilient through the second wave of closures. (1)




SWG PROPERTY – Commercial Property Liability is designed to cover hard-to-place property accounts. We can accommodate most realty-type risks, from stand-alone rentals and vacant dwellings, to large commercial risks, with an in-house capacity of up to $6,000,000.


Coverage Highlights:

● Broad Form or Named Perils

● Replacement Cost


● Dependent on individual risk, age, construction, occupancy and town grade

Other Coverages Include:

● Business Interruption, Rental Income

● Flood, Quake, Sewer Backup

● Crime – including Employee Dishonesty & Broad Form Money & Securities

● Mechanical Breakdown

Extension Packages:

● Personal Property of Officers and Employees

● Growing Plants, Trees, Shrubs or Flowers in the Open; Limited to $1,000 per plant

● Accounts Receivable

● Stock Spoilage

● Building By-Laws

● Inflation Protection

● Exhibition Coverage

● Automatic Fire Suppression System Recharge Expense

● Brands and Labels

● Fire Fighting Expenses

● New Acquired Locations (30 Days)

● Building

● Equipment and Stock (Contents)

● Debris Removal

● Peak Season Increase

● Contents Off Premises in the custody of Sales Representatives

● Land and Water Pollution Clean Up Expense (Annual Aggregate)

● Building Damage by Theft

● Extra Expense

● Valuable Papers

● Off Premises Services Interruption

● Electronic Data Processing Equipment and Media

● Systems Breakdown Coverage

● Fine Arts

● Maximum value any one item; Any One Occurrence

● Installation Floater

● Professional Fees

● Exterior Building Glass

● Signs

● Master Key



Most realty type risks are written on a “Premises” type form but full CGLs including Tenant’s Legal Liability are available.


We Cover:

Includes but is not limited to the list below. Contact us if you don’t see what you’re looking for.

● Apartment Houses (with/out commercial occupancies)

● Campgrounds

● Food Trucks/Hotdog Carts/Chip Trucks

● Hotels/Motels

● Rented Dwellings

● Retail Stores

● Rooming Houses

● Strip Plazas

● Student Housing

● Vacant Property

For more information, visit the SWG PROPERTY product page: https://swgins.com/product/swg-property.html


Content is current as of the date of broadcast and is subject to change without notice.



  1. https://thoughtleadership.rbc.com/canadian-retailers-battered-not-broken-by-second-wave/