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A look at Vancouver’s bustling retail scene and the changes to come

Metro Vancouver has welcomed an influx of American brands over the past year, and its retail landscape continues to shift—especially in the downtown core. According to CBRE’s most recent Vancouver Retail MarketView report, vacancy rates have increased in the 1100 block of Robson Street—thanks to high rent prices and struggles with Canadian retailers such as Le Chateau and Reitmans—while farther east, in Robson’s 800 and 900 blocks, open leases are being snapped up as retailers jockey for position near the future location of Nordstroms.

Last year’s highly anticipated arrival of Target in Canada was a letdown for consumers and a flop for the retail giant. Target’s underwhelming entry into the Canadian market culminated in the dismissal of Target Canada president Tony Fisher in May of this year, followed by the release of an apology video to Canadian consumers for, among other things, its poor product selection and stocking issues. Target currently has 19 locations in B.C., none of which are in Vancouver.

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The company has not confirmed whether it will convert the former Zellers in Vancouver’s Oakridge Centre into a Target, but regardless, the 55-year-old shopping centre will soon see massive changes. In March of this year, Vancouver City Council approved a $1.5-billion redevelopment proposal for Oakridge Centre, which would include doubling the mall’s size to 1.4 million square feet.

On the North Shore, Park Royal’s recent renovations to its outdoor retail village concept has made it the second-largest shopping centre in Metro Vancouver, after Burnaby’s Metrotown. Park Royal is now home to Aritzia’s biggest Canadian store, at 7,000 square feet, and the largest Zara in Metro Vancouver.

As we consider what the year ahead in retail holds, here are Vancouver’s most active spots, priciest locations, key retailers, plus the new kids on the block primed to make a local impact.