There are fewer “For Lease” signs in downtown Victoria these days, and a real estate firm says there’s good reason for that.

Following years of decline, businesses have been popping up everywhere in the city’s downtown core – where the retail vacancy rate has been slashed in half over the past year.

Colliers International says downtown retail vacancy dipped from 11 per cent at the end of 2015 to five-and-a-half per cent at the end of 2016.

The City of Victoria attributes that increase to an improving economy putting more money in shopper’s pockets, and a construction boom that’s attracting more people to live and work in the core.

“The more people we have living downtown, the more reason you will have to open up either a restaurant, or a retail store, a business,” said Victoria Coun. Margaret Lucas. “Just the walk-by traffic alone from the people who live here, that’s the goal.”

Retailers CTV News spoke with Friday said they welcome even more density, and that seeing new stores gives shoppers extra incentive to travel downtown.

With a report from CTV Vancouver Island's Robert Buffam.