Out of the dregs of the retail doldrums, an unexpected bit of news: Canada’s malls are thriving.
The busiest shopping centre in all of North America is Toronto’s Eaton Centre. In 2015, this iconic mall played host to 48.9 million visitors. That, points out the report, is more than the Las Vegas strip or the two Disney resorts combined attracted, and about equal to the population of Colombia. It is, too, importantly, more visitors than any American mall received.
This, and other revelations, were uncovered in a new report by the Retail Council of Canada.
Other highlights of Canadian Shopping Centre Study 2016: How the Malls Compare include the following:
- Of the 13 malls that attract the most foot traffic in North America, six of them are in Canada;
- Canadian malls made $744—or US$562—per square foot in 2015; American malls made just US$466 per square foot.
- Per-capita penetration of shopping centres is 16.5 square feet per person in Canada and 23.6 square feet per person in the US;
- Yorkdale is Canada’s highest-earning mall; it earned $1,650.85 in 2015.
The report includes some speculation on why Canadian malls are doing better than their American counterparts (Macy’s has announced plans to close at least 68 US stores this year and Sears Holdings has said it’ll shut 108 Kmart stores and 42 Sears outlets; in Canada, Hudson’s Bay Co., has been adding new Saks and Saks off Fifth stores), without landing on a definitive explanation. Study pundits ponder, for one, whether Canadian malls are more efficient for the reality of their contracted space. Or perhaps it’s because Canadians pay more for products than Americans do. Also worth consideration is the fact that e-commerce is more developed in the States, and so the presumed impact this alternative shopping channel has on malls would be greater there.
Retail Council of Canada president Diane Brisebois says Canada’s shopping malls are generally in a healthier state than American ones because developers in this country’s big cities have refurbished them and filled them with tenants, where American malls have watched anchor tenants flag and fail.
“Our malls look better, there’s less empty space,” she says. “That in itself creates an atmosphere that makes people want to come to [them].”