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Saks and Premium Outlets en route to Montreal

23 Oct

This weekend, I stumbled onto a blog that covers all things retail in Canada.  For those of you who know me, you know how I spent the rest of the weekend.

Among the interesting tidbits I learned combing through 18 months of coverage:

  • What’s the number one activity for travellers visiting Canada?  Shopping.  Interest is 14% higher than sightseeing (number two activity) and 36% higher than visiting family (number three activity).

That surprises me; even the Canadian government says that prices are high here compared to the US.  And 60 percent of those visitors merely cross the border from the US. Perhaps all of the visitors are visiting the behemoth of Edmonton.

  • Greater Montreal will soon have its own Premium Outlets (the best brand in outlet shopping).  Montreal Premium Outlets are located in the town of Mirabel, about 30 km north of the city (and not in the old airport).  According to the Retail Insider, possible tenants include outlets from HBC, Ralph Lauren, and Max Mara.  Now I wonder who will fill the 77 other spots.  The new complex will open some time in 2014 and will be reached through a new exit off of Autoroute 15 north.
  • Saks is coming to town.  The Retail Insider speculates that the luxury retailer will carve space out of the Hudson Bay stores at the Ste-Catherine or Carrefour Laval. I don’t know where it would go in Laval? They just opened a two-story Topshop/Topman store-within-a-store by dropping the housewares department, second floor washrooms, and always-empty cafeteria.  I’m not sure what else they can drop unless they go to self-service check out.  The Ste-Catherine Street Hudson’s Bay store, on the other hand, has tons of space.  They could carve a Saks out of one of the many additions to the building.
  • Speaking of Ste-Catherine Street, it’s the third most expensive retail spot in Canada.  According to the Retail Insider, rents are $200/square foot.  Rue de la Montagne (a side street off of Ste-Catherine) commands the tenth highest rents ($60/square foot) as does Greene Avenue in Westmount (number eleven).  Greene Avenue is nice but not quite sure why it commands top dollar.
  • The most expensive rents in Canada are at Yorkdale Mall in Toronto, which is apparently not only the most “productive” mall in Canada but all of North America, taking the top spot from one of my favorites—South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa (Orange County), California.  And Yorkdale doesn’t have a Macy’s Home Store, Container Store (admittedly in an outbuilding), or Z Gallerie.  In fact, 9 of the top 15 malls in North America are in Canada.
  • Speaking of Yorkdale, Zara Home opened its first store in North America at the mall a couple of months ago.  The second (and larger) store opened at Carrefour Laval a few weeks ago.  Even on this side of the ocean, I don’t understand that store but apparently, I’m not the kind of shopper who buys 5 place settings of garish faux gold silverware on impulse as well as by the piece.
  • Finally, Kleinfeld’s—the store that hosts the original Say Yes to the Dress (that educational series on The Learning Channel (the meaning of the TLC acronym)—are opening an outpost at the Hudson’s Bay store on Queen Street in Toronto.  Does that mean we’ll be seeing a Say Yes to the Dress Canada show soon?

Learn more about these and other retail developments at


Russia–The New Capital of Malls

3 Apr

In contrast to the depressing topic of last month, let’s launch into spring with a brighter one:  mall paradise.

Looking for a mall paradise?  According to a story in the New York Times, the new world capital of malls is Moscow.

The story notes that real estate developers are building the world’s largest mall outside of Asia in Moscow (thus ensuring that, even in its ghost state, the Mall of China remains the world’s largest mall). Another mall boasts higher visitorship than the Mall of America.  Moscow alone now has 82 malls.  Among them are recently arrived outlet malls.

A few factors seem to fuel this development. First, in a cold country like Russia, malls are warm places to visit with lots of place to roam.  Second, Russia was left out of the mall building boom of the 1980s and 1990s. Third, according to the story, because of “socialized medicine and high levels of home ownership” (a legacy of the Soviet era),  “Russians have some of the highest disposable income for retail expenditures.”

That’s not lost on international chain stores.  Indeed, one of the major developers of malls in Russia is IKEA.

To read the story, click here.

Ghost Malls, Dead Malls, and Defunct Department Stores

9 Mar

Winter seems like an appropriate time to discuss a depressing subject:  dead malls.  It’s one of the slowest shopping seasons of the year anyway; and the subject explores what happens when shopping slows to a standstill.  And virtually visiting these defunct stores costs a lot less than visiting a real one.

Ghost Malls in China

According to a recent 60 Minutes story, China overbuilt and has entire “ghost” towns: towns that are recently and nearly completely built, but where no one lives.

In fact, CNN International reports that the largest mall in the world, the Mall of China–the size of two Malls of America–is only 20 percent occupied.  The story shows pictures of empty storefronts and dusting and decaying hardware.

Dead Malls in America

But readers don’t need to look that far to find ghost malls.  For years, a small group of mall lovers have kept a log of Dead Malls in America.  Long before blogging, the masters launched this website and have kept  a meticulous history of every dead and dying malls in the  US.

Listed by state, the site provides a complete list of malls.  For each mall, the site provides photos and a bit of history: when the mall opened, descriptions of the mall in its heydey, and what ultimately caused its decline.

Defunct Department Stores Around the World

Wondering what specifically happened to all of those old anchor stores in malls whose names no longer exist, like Bamburger’s, Davison’s, Dayton’s, Filene’s, Hecht Company, and Hutzler’s?  Then check out the Online Department Store Museum.

Like Dead Malls, the Online Department Store Museum lists department stores by state.  But unlike Dead Malls, the Online Department Store Museum also lists cities as well as includes Canadian department stores.

The extent of history on each store varies.  The Online Department Store Museum provides lots of pictures of each store, but the extent of history varies widely and can be sparse.

The Wikipedia actually has more detail.  It has lists of all department stores in the world, including ones that currently operate and ones that are out of business (which the Wikipedia calls defunct).  The Wikipedia also has lists of defunct retailers in Canada. Although the Wikipedia does not have entries for every store listed, it has entries for many.


  • Read about the ghost Mall of China, click here.
  • Visit Dead Malls, click here.
  • Visit the Online Department  Store Museum, click here.
  • See the Wikipedia list of all department stores in the world–both current and defunct–click here.
  • Visit the Wikipedia entry on Defunct retail companies of Canada, click here.

(In honor of spring, my next news-oriented blog entry will be more upbeat.)

eTailers Go Physical

11 Jan

A follow-up to yesterday’s post about replicating the problems of online stores in a physical store.

Andy Dunn, founder of the online men’s clothing retailer Bonobos, though that online retailing (etailing) meant the death of bricks-and-mortar stores.

According to a recent article in the New York Times, he’s now leasing store space.

He’s not the only one.  The same article mentions several other etailers who have leased stores, including eBay.  About a year ago, I also read that Amazon had thought about a bricks-and-mortar store (though I have heard nothing since).

Sales drive etailer interest in more traditional space. Despite increases in online retailing, consumers still make the overwhelming majority of purchases online (over 90 percent).

eTailers who open spaces find that customers buy more on their first visit, and make a second purchase in less time than they would if they made the first purchase online.

Many customers are reluctant to purchase certain categories of merchandise online.  They want to touch the merchandise before buying.  This is as true of millenials as they are of other generations.  (Side note: My studies of perceptions of ebooks research has reached the same conclusions.)

Other customers want to shop in person because they live most of their lives online and need a break.

Some etailers are designing their bricks-and-mortar stores differently from the traditional store experience.

  •  To avoid costly inventory, clothing retailers most stock just one color and size of styles.  Others merely provide a shopping space.
  • Bonobos calls its stores “Guideshops” and makes shopping an appointment-only event.
  • Customers can place orders in the store, but the sales rep places the order online for the customer and ships the merchandise to the customer.

Read the entire article from the New York Times at:

Frustrations of Online Shopping

10 Jan

Shopping online? Frustrated by searches that produce useless results? Annoyed by efforts to “upsell” you (that is, get you to buy things you don’t want)? Irritated by online checkouts that never seem to go smoothly?

Then check out these videos that Google Analytics produced for online retailers, encouraging them to think more about the user experience by making them aware that data from customers who do not purchase anything is as useful as data from those who do purchase.

Check out the videos at

The New World of Retail Pricing

17 Dec

Do you sense that retail prices change more frequently than ever?

Perhaps your senses are onto something.  According to a recent article by Stephanie Clifford in the New York Times, retailers–including major ones like Amazon, Target, and Walmart–adjust prices frequently, sometimes as frequently as daily or hourly, in response to price fluctuations among competitors.

Software supports this effort.

But the constant changes have the potential to confuse consumers more than ever.

Read the entire article at


Blue Light Dimmed

14 Nov

Retail junkies: check out this article on the sad state of the world’s former largest retailer: