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Bloor-Yorkville Luxury Retail Area Abandoned Amid COVID-19 Pandemic [Photos]

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Canada’s ritziest shopping district is a virtual ghost town amid the COVID-19 epidemic. We toured Toronto’s Bloor-Yorkville area (while practicing social distancing) and took photos. Almost all retail stores in the area have been shuttered (temporarily) since Friday or before. In some cases, luxury brands have removed product entirely from stores amid concerns of robberies and as a drastic measure, the Christian Dior flagship store on Bloor Street West installed wood hoarding over its facade on Friday afternoon.

The high density Bloor-Yorkville area is home to a clustering of luxury brand stores as well as notable restaurants and other services. It serves a dense, affluent, and rapidly-growing local population and is also a destination for Torontonians and tourists. Given that Canada has shut its borders down temporarily, it remains to be seen when international tourists will return, even after stores themselves reopen.

Bloor-Yorkville’s grocery stores and drug stores remain open but with reduced hours. Grocery retailers Loblaws and Whole Foods are limiting the number of people who can enter stores at one time, which has resulted in lineups. At the Loblaw City Market at Manulife Centre, a six-foot distance was being mandated between each person in line. Italian grocerant concept Eataly, which opened in November, is open to the public though sit-down dining options have been removed.

Retailers hope to re-open stores within the coming weeks, though it remains to be seen if COVID-19 will be contained as hoped. Given the increase in cases in Canada over the past few days, not to mention how many people are still out socializing, the situation could be prolonged for a considerably longer period than expected. On Friday, for example, the EB Games store on Yonge Street saw lineups for a new video game release — the retailer faced intense criticism even from Mayor John Tory and Premier Doug Ford. EB Games subsequently announced Saturday that its Canadian stores had shut temporarily.

The following is a collection of photos from the Bloor-Yorkville area from Friday and Saturday during the day with a description of what’s happening. All photos are by Retail Insider.

Above: The large two-level Dior flagship store’s facade was being boarded over Friday afternoon. The 13,300-square-foot store opened last year in the Colonnade at 131 Bloor Street West and is currently the largest Dior store in North America.

Above: Another view of the Colonnade with Coach and Mulberry also shuttered indefinitely.

Above: The 18,000-square-foot Louis Vuitton Maison flagship store at 150 Bloor Street West has shuttered temporarily. Product in the store has been removed as per the photo below.

Above: New York City-based jeweller Tiffany & Co. has closed its 11,000-square-foot, two-level store at 151 Bloor Street West. Product appears to have been removed from the store.

Above: The Gucci flagship store, which is under renovation at 130 Bloor Street West, was shuttered last week. Product has been removed from the store as per the photo below.

Above: The 9,000-square-foot Burberry flagship store at 144 Bloor Street West has shuttered for the time being. The photo below shows that product has been removed from the store.

Above: The mixed-use 110 Bloor Street West building. All stores, including the large Winners/HomeSense have shuttered. Remarkably, three ground-level retail tenants had already shuttered permanently over the past several months. That includes, left-to-right: Calvin Klein Underwear, Guerlain, and Browns Shoes.

Above: The MCM flagship store at 93 Bloor Street West has removed all product from the store. We reported on the store’s opening in late 2017.

Above: The Dolce & Gabbana flagship store at 111 Bloor Street West has closed and product appeared to have been removed from within. Sources had said that Dolce & Gabbana was already looking to vacate the space permanently, though a timeline hadn’t been provided.

Above: UK luxury brand Mulberry has shuttered its store at the Colonnade at 131 Bloor Street West. It remains to be seen if the brand maintains its two Canadian stores in the future, both located in Toronto.

Above: Italian luxury brand Prada has cleared out its two-level flagship store at 131 Bloor Street West, and has pulled the curtains on its second floor retail level. Below is a photo taken through the store’s front doors on Saturday afternoon.

Above: An emptied out Cartier store at 131 Bloor Street West. The store is said to be getting a substantial renovation at some point, though it could be delayed because of the current situation.

Above: Vancouver-based Black Goat Cashmere, located at 131 Bloor Street West and featured in Retail Insider when it opened in 2015, has closed. The two-level William Ashley store, also featured in Retail Insider, is also closed temporarily.

Above: The Montblanc flagship store at 151 Bloor Street West is completely empty and shuttered. Other retailers at the same address include Moncler, Stuart Weitzman, and Peloton, all of which have closed temporarily.

Virtually deserted: The photo above, taken from in front of the Zegna store at 100 Bloor Street West, shows a quiet Bloor Street which is normally much busier during the day.

Above: Temporarily shuttered Zegna, Hermes, and Holt Renfrew Men stores at 100 Bloor Street West.

Above: Men’s multi-brand luxury retailer Harry Rosen has temporarily closed its 55,000-square-foot flagship store at 82 Bloor Street West, as has Roots and Banana Republic further down the block.

Above: Sephora, COS, and other retailers shutter temporarily on Bloor Street West. Beauty brand MAC had shuttered permanently in January.

Above: Eataly at Manulife Centre remains open, though chairs in dining areas appear to have been turned over (we didn’t go inside). The Maison Birks jewellery store on the corner is closed temporarily, as is the Gap store at the left of this photo.

Above: The Saint Laurent concession at Holt Renfrew has closed, and product has been removed. We reported on Saint Laurent’s 3,000-square-foot ‘world of’ concession when it opened in the spring of 2018.

Above: Boutique concessions inside of Holt Renfrew at 50 Bloor Street West have removed some products from the shelves. That includes the ground level Miu Miu boutique to the right of this photo. The lighter brown carpeted area in the photo housed several handbag brands and it appears product has been removed. We were unable to see if Balenciaga, Bulgari, David Yurman, Gucci, Dior, Prada, Fendi, Bulgari and Louis Vuitton had cleared out their concessions.

Above: A view towards the Holt Renfrew Centre at 50 Bloor Street West. Aritzia, Fossil, and Zara have shuttered temporarily, as has the Holt Renfrew store which is under the magenta tarp as part of a renovation which will include a new facade.

Above: The vacated Zara store at 50 Bloor Street West.

Above: Looking east along Bloor Street standing in front of the Zara store.

Above: Looking towards 2 Bloor Street West, which will see a substantial overhaul that will include a new Bloor Street frontage as well as demolition to the back-end for new residential skyscrapers and a small park.

Above: Nordstrom Rack at 1 Bloor Street East is shuttered temporarily. The McEwan grocery store, featured in Retail Insider last year, remains open on reduced hours.

Above: Canada’s first Chick-fil-A restaurant at 1 Bloor Street East is ‘carry out only’ for the time being.

Above: A stretch of small businesses, many of which appeared open and busy on Friday, on Charles Street just west of Yonge Street.

Above: The Beauty Boutique at Shoppers Drug Mart at Manulife Centre has been decommissioned temporarily with product removed from the space. The rest of the Shoppers Drug Mart store remains open on reduced hours.

Above: Normally busy Yorkville Avenue is virtually empty on Saturday as people stayed indoors. A handful of people were cautiously walking through the neighbourhood while some cars drove by. Restaurants are either closed or are open for take-out orders only.

Above: Another view of Yorkville Avenue and its shuttered stores and restaurants.

Above: Christian Louboutin and other retailers temporarily shutter on upscale Yorkville Avenue.

Above: French luxury brand Chanel announced last week that it was closing all of its stores, including this 8,700-square-foot, two-level flagship store at 98 Yorkville Avenue. The beautiful store opened in November of 2017 and was featured in this publication.

Above: Italian luxury fashion brand Versace has shuttered its store in the 102-108 Yorkville Avenue complex. Below is a photo showing that the store is mostly empty inside.

Above: The normally busy Yorkville Village food court is empty and has no seating. Landlord First Capital Realty spent several years and many millions of dollars renovating the former Hazelton Lanes shopping centre. First Capital Realty is also redeveloping much of Yorkville Avenue and owns the buildings housing Chanel, Versace, Brunello Cucinelli, Stone Island, and others.

Above: ‘The Oval’ at Yorkville Village during what would have been a normally busy afternoon. A wine store was the only retailer open in the area.

Above: Notable menswear retailer ‘philip’, featured in 2016 in Retail Insider, is closed though as per the photo below, is offering private shopping to its clients.

Above: ‘The Fix’ at Yorkville Village is almost unrecognizable. The space used to house large chairs, tables and couches that encouraged people to gather. Desks at the back were also used by some as makeshift work spaces.

Above: The Whole Foods grocery store at Yorkville Village remains open on reduced hours and is currently limiting the number of customers allowed inside at any time. We noticed long lineups to get into the store over the weekend, which no doubt is causing further frustration during an already challenging situation. This photo is of an entranceway we’d normally use to enter Whole Foods, which has been blocked for the time being.

Above: The Cumberland Street entrance to ‘Yorkville Lane’ which saw a substantial renovation last year.

Above: ‘alo bar’ in Yorkville Lane, considered to be one of the leading restaurants in Canada, is closed during a Saturday afternoon. It’s said to be almost impossible to get a reservation at the restaurant when it’s open.

Above: Nespresso at 159 Cumberland Street was closed along with other nearby retailers that include Lululemon, Aveda, Nicholas, and SEE Eyewear.

Above: Normally busy Cumberland Street was unusually quiet on a Saturday afternoon. The Kate Spade flagship store at 138 Cumberland Street had shut temporarily, as had others.

Above: Another view of Cumberland Street. Retailers have shuttered while some restaurants offer takeout service.

Above: The back-end of the 100 Bloor Street West complex facing Cumberland Street, with a shuttered restaurant and Barry’s Bootcamp which opened last year.

While Retail Insider would like to report on other areas of the city and country in a similar way, we may not be able to do so in the foreseeable future due to suggested social isolation. Retail Insider is located in the area and we’re staying close to home for the time being. We’re hoping that stores, restaurants and other businesses in Canada will open again in the coming weeks and that isolation won’t be necessary in the weeks to come. We’ll otherwise continue to provide retail-related updates on the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada.

Article Author

Craig Patterson
Located in Toronto, Craig is the Editor-in-Chief of Retail Insider and President/CEO of Retail Insider Media Ltd. He is also a retail analyst and consultant, Director of Applied Research at the University of Alberta School of Retailing in Edmonton, and consultant to the Retail Council of Canada. 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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