The long awaited arrival of popular Japanese chain Uniqlo at West Edmonton Mall is now over. West Edmonton Mall officially welcomed Uniqlo on September 27, 2019. The store opening was first announced by Retail Insider in June 2019.
The store spans more than 15,000 square feet and is located on the upper level of the mall’s ‘Phase II’ overlooking ‘Mayfield Toyota Ice Palace’, which is the mall’s indoor National Hockey League-sized rink used for recreational skating, figure skating, hockey and special non-ice events.
Uniqlo replaces three retail spaces formerly occupied by Murale, Laura and Browns Shoes. The Uniqlo store has taken over almost the entire footprint of the three stores. The only exception is the upstairs 2,665 square foot mezzanine of the former Murale store which was not repurposed by Uniqlo. The Shoppers Drug Mart-owned beauty chain Murale closed its doors in the mall in Spring 2019. Laura and Browns Shoes have relocated to new spaces on the upper level of Phase II.
Retail Insider was fortunate to tour the West Edmonton Mall Uniqlo store prior to the grand opening. The tour was led by Uniqlo Canada’s Public Relations Team, Sehee Kim, PR Manager and Salina Shairulla PR Assistant Manager. The West Edmonton Mall store carries men’s, women’s, children’s and infant fashion, all designed with the concept of LifeWear. Uniqlo’s LifeWear concept is creating simple, high quality, everyday clothing. The fashions include tops, bottoms, outerwear, accessories, loungewear and socks and underwear.
The store carries its flagship collections including HEATTECH which features a technological innovation involving inner wear that generates heat from one’s own body temperature, Ultra Light Down which is down outerwear that is light weight and super warm and UT Graphic T-Shirt Collection which features short term collaborations with other brands. The store will also carry its signature $99.90 cashmere sweaters in 16 colours in the next few weeks. The fitting rooms are staffed with an attendant and are unisex which allows the rooms to be flexed if there is a high demand.
Uniqlo West Edmonton Mall also offers customer friendly options including an Alteration Service for hemming of bottoms. Depending on the bottom the alteration may be complimentary, or a nominal fee is charged. The alterations are completed instore and can be ready as fast as 60 minutes. The store offers an enhanced checkout process. With the use of RFID tags in the clothing, the cashier folds and places the items to be purchased on a scanning pad. The scanning pad recognizes the item and price with no manual scanning required. With a high volume store this reduces checkout time and ensures accurate supply management on the back end. The store will employ approximately 80 full and part time employees.
Opening day generated significant excitement with the first customers starting to line up at 5:00 am on Friday morning. When the store officially opened its doors at 10:00 am, the line stretched all the way to the Canada Goose store located in Phase III of the mall. Salina Shairulla, PR Assistant Manager estimated that over 800 people were in line to get a first glimpse of the store. To celebrate the grand opening the first 200 people in line received a limited edition tote bag emblazoned with cities from around the world that have Uniqlo’s store locations with Edmonton prominently displayed at the top of the bag.
Lucky shoppers were also able to receive the tote bag with a purchase of $75.00 or more. In addition, with any purchase shoppers could receive a free Women’s or Men’s HEATTECH Crew Neck Long Sleeve T-Shirt. To help promote downloads of the Uniqlo Canada App, shoppers were offered a $5.00 off coupon on their first purchase plus also a chance to win a trip to Tokyo. The prize includes airfare for two, four nights hotel stay and $500 in spending money. Throughout the store there were also numerous promotions with discounts on their popular Ultra-Light Down outerwear collection, flannel shirts and pants.
The selection of West Edmonton as the first Uniqlo location for Alberta is ideal. West Edmonton Mall attracts more than 28 million visitors annually, with nearly 50% being from out-of-town. The mall draws visitors from all over Edmonton and beyond. The visitors are a diverse cross-section of cultures. The mall even has a themed Chinatown section where visitors can experience a taste of Asian culture. Uniqlo fits perfectly into the visitor profile of West Edmonton Mall as they are multicultural and may have previously shopped Uniqlo in Canada or abroad.
The Edmonton store marks the 12th Uniqlo store in Canada with seven stores in the Greater Toronto Area (CF Markville, CF Toronto Eaton Centre, Oshawa Centre, Square One, Upper Canada Mall, Vaughn Mills and Yorkdale) and four in the Vancouver area (Coquitlam Centre, Guildford Town Centre, Metropolis at Metrotown and CF Richmond Centre) With the line ups to get into the store and the number of shoppers during the grand opening weekend, it appears that the West Edmonton Mall location will be very successful. Uniqlo’s combination of fashion essentials for the entire family along with a competitive price point will appeal to many Canadian shoppers. Uniqlo has said that it could eventually operate as many as 100 stores in Canada however no further store openings have been announced. The Montreal market is said to be next for Uniqlo, with an announcement said to be forthcoming.