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Luxury brands eye Edmonton, retail expert saysMonday, August 17, 2015 > 09:33:32
Edmonton and Calgary are poised for growth in their luxury shopping markets despite the economic gloom cast by low oil prices, a national retail consultant says.
West Edmonton Mall’s pursuit of more high-end stores plus new opportunities for upscale retail in Edmonton’s Ice District — the retail and entertainment area around the new downtown arena — and Calgary’s Mount Royal Village are attracting attention from U.S. and European luxury brands, Brian Winston said.
He’s the head of Toronto-based Winston Collective, a firm that works with high-end retailers to expand operations in Canada and the U.S.
“There are projects that are going on to redevelopment with some large land developers,” Winston said.
“There is an increase of square footage that’s going to be available within these cities and it is going to attract what we refer to as affordable lifestyle luxury. Those are things that are not as uptight as a Gucci or Louis Vuitton, but more geared to lifestyle or sport style — things that relate to people’s existence as it exists right now.”
He lists brands such as Brunello Cucinelli, Fabiana Fillipi and Longchamp. “They’re a bit of a stretch, but not so much of a stretch financially.”
Winston also believes there’s pent-up demand for higher-end shopping in Edmonton.
“People may be shopping a great deal when they’re on holiday or at a second home or when they visit relatives because they don’t have these options available,” he said.
Edmonton already made it onto the Winston Collective’s 2015 list of Canada’s top 10 luxury areas, based on the number of ultra-swank retailers, but just barely.
West Edmonton Mall was ranked No. 10, based on the presence of luxury brands Hugo Boss and Tiffany & Co.
Calgary’s The CORE downtown shopping area came in sixth and Chinook Centre placed ninth.
Toronto’s Bloor Street West and Vancouver’s Luxury Zone topped the list. Yorkdale in Toronto was third and downtown Montreal placed fourth.
The rankings were dominated by Toronto and Vancouver because of their greater populations, Winston said.
“It is a very slim part of the pie that (luxury retailers) go after so they need a larger segment of the population. In the case of Vancouver, it has a very strong Asian community which (tends) toward buying luxury products. Vancouver also has a humongous tourist business.”
Upscale retailers looking to expand into Alberta won’t necessarily be deterred by an oil slump, Winston said.
“Within a bust cycle, there is opportunity to take some time to find the right space build some acknowledgment that you’ll be in this community.”