Study Reveals Canada’s Top Retail Street Rents

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Cushman & Wakefield has just released its 2015/2016 ‘Main Streets Across the World‘ study. It’s the 27th edition of the study which tracks over 500 of the world’s top retail streets, ranking the most expensive locations by their prime rental value. The study ranks six Canadian cities, and also mentions how some luxury brands are choosing malls over streetfront retail spaces. 

Overall, the report showed that rents have risen 35% since the last study, despite increasing global uncertainty. New York’s 5th Avenue (between 49 Street and 60 Street) is the most expensive retail street in the world, with per square foot annual rents rising to U.S. $3,500 in 2015. That’s nearly 50% pricier than second place Causeway Bay in Hong Kong. Below is the study’s top 10 ranked most expensive retail locations in each country: 

Canada’s top retail rents are lower and in the study, measured in both Canadian and American dollars. Below is a screen shot of the Canadian numbers on page 18 of the study. 

Toronto’s Bloor Street West ranked first with rents of $325 per square foot, annually. The street features a mix of luxury retailers and mid-priced chain retailers, ranging from Chanel, Prada and Gucci to H&M, Winners and The Gap. Holt Renfrew‘s Canadian flagship occupies prime frontage at 50 Bloor Street West and Manulife Centre, directly across the street, is set to expand its retail component which is expected to include a 40,000 square foot second level to house an innovative international retail concept. Plenty of movement is at play as developer Sam Mizrahi plans to build ‘The One‘ at One Bloor Street West, featuring a multi-level retail podium topped by a luxury residential tower. Although Chanel will be leaving Bloor Street for nearby Yorkville Avenue in 2017, Prada will more than double its current Bloor Street location and as well, we’ll soon be announcing a new luxury retail tenant confirmed for 100 Bloor Street West.

Vancouver’s Robson Street came in at second place with rents of $210 per square foot, annually. The street is a mixture of mid-priced chain retailers typically found in malls, as well as luxury retailer Salvatore Ferragamo and soon, Paris-based confectionery Ladurée. Nordstrom opened a 230,000 square foot store at the eastern end of the Robson Street strip in September, and Sport Chek will replace a recently shuttered Chapters bookstore across from Nordstrom. Soon, Aritizia will debut an expansion that will see its current location expanded all the way to the Robson and Thurlow Street intersections, also making it Canada’s largest Aritzia store. 

Montreal’s Sainte Catherine Street West ranked third at $180 per square foot annually. The street is a mixture of mid-priced retailers and department stores, with its primary retail strip anchored by Ogilvy at the west end and Hudson’s Bay and Maison Birks to the east. Aritzia recently opened one of its largest locations on the street, and H&M’s COS concept opened its second Canadian location in a former Le Chateau space across from Ogilvy. More movement is expected on the street in the coming months, according to sources, and many are waiting in anticipation as Ogilvy is set to expand and merge with Holt Renfrew into a 220,000 mega-store, set to open in 2017. 


Toronto’s Queen Street West ranked fourth with rents of $110 per square foot annually. The street features a mixture of trendy and chain retailers, in a mix of heritage and contemporary buildings. Vancouver-based MEC plans to relocate its downtown Toronto store to Queen Street West and Soho, and retailers continue to show interest in the busy shopping street. 

Calgary’s 17th Avenue ranked fifth, with rents of about $50 per square foot annually. The street is a mixture of mid-priced independent and chain retailers and restaurants. Anchoring the centre of the strip is Mount Royal Village, which recently opened West Elm and will soon feature Calgary’s first Urban Fare grocery store. As well, Edmonton-based retailer gravitypope just opened a magnificent flagship on the Calgary street, and we’ll be profiling the store in a separate article. 

Edmonton’s Whyte Avenue (82 Avenue) ranked sixth in the study, with rents of $43 per square foot annually. The street features some popular chain retailers (Lululemon, Roots, David’s Tea) and many independent retailers, as well as some popular local restaurants. A new mixed-use development will soon add more retail space on the site of a former gas station, which sat vacant for almost 18 years. 


The Cushman and Wakefield study notes that in Canada, prime streetfront rents were generally unchanged over the year; however, as vacancy rates gradually tighten across most markets, a return to growth is anticipated in the medium term. The study also noted an increasing trend of high-end retailers targeting shopping centres rather than the more traditional high streets, partly facilitated by recent mall renovations that have added new stores, restaurants and other amenities to attract high-end tenants. The study doesn’t mention specific shopping centres, though luxury retailers continue to target malls such as Yorkdale Shopping Centre and CF Sherway Gardens in Toronto, CF Pacific Centre and Oakridge Centre in Vancouver, and CF Chinook Centre in Calgary

The study also ranked American retail streets, as outlined above. Several U.S. cities boast streets with higher retail rents than Toronto’s Bloor Street West, including Chicago’s North Michigan Avenue (U.S. $525) and East Oak Street (U.S. $340), Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive (U.S. $800), Miami’s Lincoln Road (U.S. $325), San Francisco’s Union Square (U.S. $650) and Post Street (U.S. $495), and New York City’s ‘Upper’ Fifth Avenue (U.S. $3,500), ‘Lower’ Fifth Avenue (U.S. $1,000), Madison Avenue (U.S. $1,500) and Soho (U.S. $795). 

You may view the entire PDF study at the following link: [Download Main Streets Across the World study PDF]

Article Author

Craig Patterson
Craig Patterson
Located in Toronto, Craig is the Publisher & CEO of Retail Insider Media Ltd. He is also a retail analyst and consultant, Advisor at the University of Alberta School Centre for Cities and Communities in Edmonton, former lawyer and a public speaker. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for over 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees.

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  1. You don’t seem to be address what this study represents. You only seem to be rehashing numbers in the study. Dip beneath the top layer.

  2. These are net rents…and there is no way Calgary is 5th in the country at $50.00. There are 4-5 other nodes in Toronto more expensive than this, nevermind the rest of Canada.


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