Sales and traffic at B.C. shopping centres remain steady despite the rise of e-commerce and speculation that bricks-and-mortar retail is a dying business sector.
Indeed, seven of the 30 most productive malls in Canada, ranked by sales per square foot, are in B.C. — including Coquitlam Centre — according to the Retail Council of Canada’s annual Canadian Shopping Centre Study, which was released Jan. 3.
“What was remarkable was that despite reports that there is a retail apocalypse, which there certainly isn’t, it appears that top shopping centres continue to thrive,” said Craig Patterson, president and CEO of Retail Insider and author of the study.
“We looked at what the top malls are doing to help them succeed and it is that they have the best stores and the highest quality food and washrooms, and somewhat convenient access is not an issue.”
He pointed to International Council of Shopping Centres (ICSC) data that showed that for a second year in a row, Metro Vancouver had the highest average productivity for malls in Canada, at $1,051 per square foot.
That amount is a mere $2 below the $1,053/sq. ft. Metro Vancouver malls generated in 2016. In 2015, Metro Vancouver malls generated $1,011/sq. ft., according to ICSC data.
Patterson’s own research broke down the performance of individual malls across Canada that are above a certain size threshold to determine that the seven most productive malls in B.C., based on sales per square foot, are:
•Oakridge Shopping Centre ($1,579);
•Pacific Centre ($1,531);
•Metropolis at Metrotown ($1,031);
•Richmond Centre ($937);
•Guildford Town Centre ($875);
•Park Royal Shopping Centre ($874); and
•Coquitlam Centre ($823).
Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre, with average sales per square foot of $1,653, was by far the most productive mall in the country.
Patterson’s own research for this year’s study was based on data for the 12 months ending June 30, 2017 while his 2016 study was based on the 12 months ending Aug. 31, 2016, so there is some overlap in that time period and the numbers in the two studies are, therefore, not exactly comparable. Patterson, however, said they both serve as a good gauge of performance.
For pedestrian count, Metropolis at Metrotown is the busiest B.C. mall and the second busiest in Canada, with 27,967,061 visits. That’s down from the 28,839,313 visits that the mall reported to Patterson for his 2016 study.
Toronto Eaton Centre was by far the busiest mall in Canada with 50,100,000 visits, according to the 2017 study, and 48,969,858 visits in the 2016 study.
Pacific Centre attracted 21,600,000 visits in the year ended June 30 2017 and was the only other B.C. mall to be among the 10 busiest malls in Canada. That mall attracted 21,952,850 visits in the year that ended August 31, 2016.
Meanwhile, Sears was expected to close its doors at Coquitlam Centre on Monday, leaving a large hole in the mall’s footprint. More than 130 employees were expected to lose their jobs once the store assets were liquidated, a company spokesperson told The Tri-City News in October. Sears accounts for 151,455 sq. feet of space at Coquitlam Centre.
— with files from Diane Strandberg