Study Ranks Canadian Shopping Centres

Retail Council of Canada has released its first study that ranks Canada’s top shopping centres based on annual sales per square foot, size, and annual pedestrian count. Comparisons to top US centres are also made for each of these. The study then provides insight into trends seen among leading malls, including the importance of reinvestment.

The study ranks Canada’s top shopping centres by sales per square foot, with Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre ranking first with a productivity of almost $1651. Vancouver’s Oakridge Centre ranked second with annual sales per square foot of $1,537, followed by Vancouver’s CF Pacific Centre with a productivity of $1,523 per square foot. A total of 30 Canadian shopping centres were ranked as per the report, which will be used as a benchmark for future Retail Council of Canada shopping centre studies.

Yorkdale Mall Toronto

Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre ranks first with a productivity of almost $1651 in sales per square foot.

Canada’s 10 largest shopping centres are revealed in the study and, with no surprise, West Edmonton Mall is first. The Edmonton mall features retail as well as expansive entertainment and food components, reflecting a trend among malls to become ‘entertainment centres’. Toronto’s CF Toronto Eaton Centre ranked second in size, partly due to the vast size of its Hudson’s Bay building component, which also houses Canada’s 170,000 square foot flagship Saks Fifth Avenue store. The Mall of America, located in suburban Minneapolis and under the same ownership umbrella as West Edmonton Mall, ranked second on the continent in terms of size.

The Retail Council of Canada study then ranks Canada’s top 10 busiest malls by annual visitors (aka ‘footfall’). Remarkably, CF Toronto Eaton Centre, with almost 50 million visitors, sees more people annually than the Las Vegas Strip, Disneyland and Disney World combined, and almost as many as New York City’s Times Square. The Toronto mall is the busiest in North America, with Honolulu’s Ala Moana Center and Minneapolis’ Mall of America trailing by eight and 10 million annual visitors, respectively.

Oakridge Centre Vancouver

Vancouver’s Oakridge Centre ranked second with annual sales per square foot of $1,537.

The study notes, referencing statistics from International Council of Shopping Centres (ICSC), that Canadian malls are, on average, more productive in terms of sales per square foot than those in the United States. Canadian malls averaged $744 (Canadian) per square foot in 2016, while US malls averaged US $466 per square foot. A number of factors may be at play, including the fact that Canada has less retail space per person — according to CBRE statistics, Canada has 16.5 square feet of retail space per person, versus 23.6 square feet in the US.

Ten Canadian regions are examined in depth, providing demographic information as well as a summary of selected top shopping centres. Regions vary widely, for example, when examining factors such as retail space per capita and average sales per square foot. Vancouver malls rank top in terms of productivity, according to ICSC numbers, averaging a whopping $1,019 per square foot annually. Toronto malls ranked second, at $860 per square foot.

Pacific Centre Vancouver

In third is Vancouver’s Pacific Centre with a productivity of $1,523 per square foot.

The Retail Council of Canada study then goes on to discuss some trends in the industry, including expanded entertainment options, renovations and expansions, enhanced food/beverage options, pop-up retail, and the polarization of retail, among others. "Investing in malls with strong anchors, healthy upscale food courts and restaurants is helping drive traffic to stores,” said Farla Efros, President of HRC Retail Advisory, when asked to comment on her opinion about what landlords need to do to keep malls competitive.

Several major sponsors helped make the Retail Council of Canada shopping centre study happen, including Microsoft Canada, which is helping empower retailers with innovative new technology. Other key sponsors include three leading design firms — GH+A Design, Designstead, and Cutler. Leading Montreal-based SAJO, which specializes in retail design, construction, procurement and maintenance, was instrumental in helping the study get off the ground. Interac, which provides much-needed payment services to retailers Canada-wide, was also a key sponsor to the Retail Council of Canada study.

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