Retail Insider continues its Photo Tour series of Canadian malls to provide a window into shopping centres across the country that may be continuing to grow and expand while dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This edition takes us to the Avalon Mall, which is the leading shopping mall located in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
We asked the team at Avalon Mall to provide us with a glimpse of the mall during a typical day in January 2021, and they went above and beyond with providing our readers a photographic experience that would be beneficial for everyone. Our thanks go out to Donna Vincent, the General Manager of Avalon Mall and her entire team in Newfoundland. We’d also like to thank Elizabeth Engram (Manager, Marketing & PR at Crombie REIT), Marcel Elliott (Director, Leasing at Crombie REIT), and the team at Crombie REIT for providing the images for this tour.
The Avalon Mall Overview
Avalon Mall is the premiere regional shopping centre in St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador. It’s the largest enclosed shopping mall in the province and will offer approximately 593,000 square feet of gross leasable area (GLA) upon completion of a three-year redevelopment project. Avalon Mall is owned and managed by Crombie REIT (“Crombie”).
Phase 1 of the $112M project began in 2017 with construction of a new parking structure, providing 875 additional parking spaces for shoppers and visitors. Vehicle access to Kenmount Road was redesigned and realigned, and the redesign and phased renovation of the centre’s interior common areas began with contemporary porcelain tile and acoustic ceiling tiles.
Phase 2 includes improvements to entrances and the exterior façade. Interior upgrades continue on the main level and in centre court, corridors, and atriums with upgrades to lighting, ceiling, and tile treatments. New washroom facilities were completed near the bottom of the food court escalators in 2019 — good washrooms are important for a first-class mall. The food court has been expanded with modern finishes, additional seating and furniture, and sorting stations that allow the mall to divert organic waste to an on-site composter.
2019 saw the opening of a new 50,400-square-foot Winners and HomeSense store, and a 30,600-square-foot The Rec Room by Cineplex. There was also a large number of additional retailers that joined the centre and will be highlighted as we go through the tour.
Click here for the PDF of the January 2021 Leasing Map
The redevelopment of the common areas are complete, with a number of retailers scheduled to open in the next couple of months. There are also a few areas that are being redeveloped in the exterior of the property, but those should be completed by the summer of 2021.
Before we show interior photos, it’s important to stress that Newfoundland & Labrador have been on the low end of COVID-19 cases, with 6 total cases in the last 14 days and 398 total cases throughout the entirety of the pandemic. This is why you’ll see guests and employees without masks or various physical distancing measures that have been implemented in provinces across the nation.
When we were discussing the layout of this mall tour, the idea was to show three elements:
- The progress of the expansion
- The features of COVID-19 pandemic safety measures for guests
- Additional photos of Avalon Mall
The Expansion at Avalon Mall
The photo walk begins at H&M, flowing through to Sport Chek and ending at Mountain Warehouse.
In December 2020, Swedish fast-fashion retailer H&M opened a 21,740-square-foot location beside a soon-to-open 15,620-square-foot Old Navy store at Avalon Mall. H&M has been quietly expanding its base of stores in Canada, seeing success with its low-cost fashion model.
Adding tenants is an exciting time for a mall, especially when the exit of Sears gave the team an opportunity to re-imagine the offerings. This has been the case across the country as landlords look to backfill vacated anchor spaces.
Winners HomeSense relocated in 2019 to a 50,530-square-foot location with multiple windows that allow guests to see inside the store upon entry into the mall. Such a frontage is rare for an off-price retailer in a strong shopping centre.
Directly across from Winners will be a 25,600-square-foot Sport Chek location, which has a tentative opening date of March 2021. Calgary-based FGL Sports (known as Forzani Group Ltd prior to a 2011 acquisition by Canadian Tire) operates a number of brands on top of Sport Chek, including Pro Hockey Life, Nevada Bob’s Golf, Atmosphere, and Sports Experts. The Avalon Mall Sport Chek won’t be as large or comprehensive as the retailer’s mega flagships, some of which span in excess of 75,000 square feet.
GAP Factory will be joining the wing, along with a new Banana Republic, with both stores spanning 15,730-square-feet of retail space. The construction is all-hands on deck to get these stores up and running, which you can actually see in the GAP photo. It’s a positive sign that the GAP is actually opening a store in Canada as it closes other locations, including vacating Toronto’s Mink Mile completely.
Tommy Hilfiger will be taking a 10,320-square-foot location, with a tentative opening set for Spring 2021. The US-based fashion brand operates a network of stores across Canada, many of them in outlet/off-price centres.
This will be a high traffic spot as it’s at another entrance to the mall and will be directly beside Five Guys and three locations that aren’t confirmed yet. When you’re looking at the leasing map, it’s interesting to note that the leasing team is still filling out their roster in locations ranging from 1,400 square feet to 3,750 square feet.
Skechers will be opening a 2,520-square-foot location in spring 2021. The casual footwear and fashion retailer has a network of stores across Canada in malls, outlets and big-box centres.
Levi’s will also be joining the wing with a 2,060-square-foot store, which is less than half the size of the flagship at the Toronto Eaton Centre. Opened in 2018, that location featured the Levi’s Tailor Shop, a feature that allows guests custom embroidery and hemming services. Levi’s has been expanding its direct-to-consumer strategy by opening standalone stores across Canada — it’s a trend that we will continue to see into 2021 as brands increasingly move distribution away from multi-brand retailers such as department stores.
A great location for the new Hakim Optical, which will cover 1,700 square feet in the mall expansion. We covered how Hakim Optical has been able to secure brand-defining retail locations, including Bay & Bloor at the entrance of the Mink Mile in Toronto. Toronto-based Hakim Optical has expanded from its home base across the country with well over 150 stores.
We haven’t had the opportunity to see a T.Kettle retail location in-person yet, so this was a pleasant surprise to see a location up and running. Retail Insider interviewed Doug Putnam (CEO, T.Kettle) prior to launch. The brand took over many of David’s Tea’s former storefronts after the retailer shut most of its locations following a bankruptcy filing last year.
Next to Hakim Optical is Tip Top Tailors, which has joined the area with a substantial 3,990-square-foot location. Personally, I love seeing new Tip Top Tailor stores, as I worked at a Jack Fraser menswear store at Aberdeen Mall in Kamloops, BC when I was in University. The “Jack Fraser” name was retired in 2005 and the company decided to rename all locations to Tip Top Tailors or merge with already existing in-market stores.
This particular location features a striking facade as part of the retailer’s new store concept.
Newfoundland Chocolate Company secured the corner, with a 1,000-square-foot presence with plenty of socially-distanced seating and an open concept. The lighting design really captures the eye.
You’ll also see variety retailer Showcase, which opened a 1,200-square-foot store and directly across from our next stop.
A 6,330-square-foot Mountain Warehouse location is next, which in our 2020 article floor plans was actually split into 3 different smaller-format retail offerings. The British travel and outdoor retailer has been expanding its base of stores in Canada since entering the market in 2014.
More Expansions, Relocations, and Renovations
In this next section, we’re going to be touring locations that may not be in the new expansion wing but are still exciting to share.
The Rec Room opened its first in-mall location in 2019 at Avalon Mall. On top of the entertainment value, this location has been a healthy addition to the property by way of creating a full-day experience. Visitors who are going to the Rec Room may continue to spend time (and money) in the mall, which is a huge benefit vs a stand-alone location like the Rec Room at the Roundhouse across the street from the CN Tower in Toronto.
Laura Secord opened its newly renovated 870-square-foot store in November 2020. This was great news as we’ve seen a number of the Quebec-based chocolatier locations close in the last few months, including Bayview Shopping Centre and Cloverdale Mall.
This photo also shows a Sephora and Lululemon location — both retail powerhouses. Beauty retailer Sephora now operates stores across the country, and Vancouver-based Lululemon is growing its base of stores in Canada as well as beyond by taking advantage of vacated retail space by other retailers.
Additional Renovation/Expansion Retailers
- Ardene Relocated in 2020
- EB Games Relocated in 2020
- Crescent Jewellers expanded August 2020
- Adam & Eve Hair Salon opened October 2020
- The Brick opened November 2020
- Flavours of India opened December 2020
- Bath and Body Works relocation to a larger location Feb 2021
COVID-19 Pandemic Safety Protocols
The team at Avalon Mall were very proud of their success with implementations of safety protocols during the 2020/2021 pandemic. Even though Newfoundland has been able to escape the various lockdowns and infection rates as the rest of the country, they are still making guests feel safe through the use of education and branded signage.
Drone Photos of Avalon Mall and Woodgate Plaza
Below are a number of drone photos, provided by Overdrone Services, Inc.
Wrap Up of the Avalon Mall Photo Tour (January 2020)
And that’s a wrap! Join us for more photo tours in 2021. Retail Insider is enjoying the process of exploring malls across the country during a challenging time for the industry.
Our thanks again go out to Donna Vincent, the General Manager of Avalon Mall and her entire team in Newfoundland, and the team at Crombie REIT for providing the images for this tour.
Additional Photos of Avalon Mall During the Pandemic
The team at Avalon Mall sent through a number of amazing images of the mall, outside of the new expansion wing. Feel free to scroll through the photos below to see how the property is looking in January 2021.