How the loosening of restrictions has impacted OOH

COMMB's Q3 report shows a trend back to pre-COVID levels in cities across the country.

Though the weather is getting colder, the outlook for OOH is getting sunny now that provinces are continuing to loosen restrictions and Canadians are more comfortable returning to public spaces such as offices, gyms, and restaurants.

These changes are captured in the Q3 report from the Canadian Out of Home Marketing and Measurement Bureau (COMMB). Almost all markets observed double-digit point growth between the percentage of consumer movements within opportunity to see (OTS) OOH assets. This includes a 24% increase from Q2 to Q3 on the Quebec side of Ottawa-Gatineau and Quebec City, as well as a 22% jump in Halifax. There was also a 13% increase on the Ontario side of Ottawa-Gatineau, 12% in Toronto, 11% in Calgary and 10% in Montreal.

Edmonton had already been experiencing strong performance in previous months, so its growth in Q3 is a more modest 9% increase in consumer movement between Q2 and Q3. Vancouver was slower in its return to normalcy, however it did experience an 8% increase in consumer movement during that same period.

Looking at OOH media type in Alberta, Calgary’s street furniture has gained slightly on the other forms, while Edmonton’s superboards grew in July and August; street furniture increased by 8% between Q2 and Q3, while traditional posters maintained a strong presence with an increase of 7%.

In B.C., Vancouver has had a more conservative recovery but is pacing upward with an 8% increase between Q2 and Q3. Outdoor digital leads with a 9% increase, followed by street furniture and posters at 8% and 7% increases, respectively.

The Atlantic region continued its movement towards increased activity, driven by strength in Halifax in particular. The city is among the strongest indexing markets when compared to pre-COVID OOH activity. While the area experienced somewhat of a slump earlier this year, growth from Q2 to Q3 increased by 22%. Activity in Nova Scotia was likely accelerated recently by the region’s removal of gathering limits on events and the province’s move to Phase 5 of the reopening on October 5.

In Ontario, Toronto’s product performance from Q2 to Q3 saw double-digit increases across the board with outdoor digital leading the way with a 14% increase, followed by superboards with a 12% rise. Backlit posters, murals, traditional posters, and street furniture all saw 11% increases.

The largest markets in Quebec – Montreal and Quebec City – had double-digit growth in the activity index, gaining 10% and 24%, respectively. Product results were impressive across the board in both markets. In Montreal, outdoor digital and superboards led with 10% increases, followed by street furniture and posters with 8% and 9% increases. Quebec City also saw outdoor digital growth with a 28% increase, superboards weren’t far behind with a 25% increase, and posters and street furniture saw 24% and 23% increases.

The continuing trend toward pre-COVID benchmarks is evident in other indicators that are positive signs for place-based OOH. For example, monthly sales among eating and drinking establishments are trending higher towards pre-COVID levels. Although their dataset is only reflective up to July, the correlation between reopening noted in June and revenue can be seen. Another month or two of growth similar to spring and summer is expected to push food and drink spending beyond what it was pre-COVID.