Canada’s Most Successful Shopping Centre

Pacific Centre Vancouver | BCBusiness
With sales of $1,335 per square foot, Vancouver’s Pacific Centre is Canada’s most productive mall.

A look at how Pacific Centre’s approach to retail makes it the most productive mall in the country

Pacific Centre mall was recently named the fourth-most productive shopping centre in North America by Retail Insider. The downtown Vancouver mall boasts sales of $1,335 per square foot, making it Canada’s most productive shopping centre, narrowly beating out Toronto’s Yorkdale shopping centre, which has per-square-foot sales of $1,300.

Tom Knoepfel, senior vice-president and portfolio manager for Cadillac Fairview’s Western Canada portfolio, says Pacific Centre’s competitive edge comes from its exclusive offering of retailers. “I think we’ve been able to attract a lot of first-to-market retailers in the shopping centre. This was Apple’s first store in Greater Vancouver,” he says. “That’s really been our focus and continues to be our focus, even with the retail concourse expansion under what will become the new Nordstrom store.”

When Nordstrom opens in September 2015, it will include 44,000 square feet of additional retail space underneath its store, which would accommodate another 12 to 14 tenants. “We’re in the process of negotiating with some new retailers that currently do not have stores in Greater Vancouver,” says Knoepfel.

Nordstrom will strengthen downtown Vancouver as a premiere shopping destination, which Knoepfel says works in Pacific Centre’s favour. “The broader the offering that can be provided just brings more people,” he says. “Downtown Vancouver as a whole is such a strong shopping destination that people will shift between the shopping centre and going to stores on the street, and vice versa.” He adds that having the only Holt Renfrew in the region is a key draw for adjoining Pacific Centre.

When asked about the recent boom in open-air shopping centres, Knoepfel says he doesn’t see them as a threat to Pacific Centre’s success. “I think it’s going to add to the offering in Greater Vancouver and I think that’s a positive thing for shoppers,” he says. In terms of cross-border competition, Knoepfel admits that shoppers going south is always a concern, but he suggests that it’s less dire today than it used to be. “Ten years ago if you walked into a U.S. shopping centre, you’d see a number of retailers that were new that we didn’t have in Canada. That differentiation has diminished significantly. Most major successful U.S. retailers are in the top shopping centres in Canada,” he says.

Moving forward, Knoepfel says his team will continue its focus on securing first-to-market retailers, adding that Pacific Centre’s reputation among retailers is likely to result in a snowball effect. “Success breeds success,” he says. “Retailers know where the most profitable locations are and they want to be there as well.”