It turns out that Edmonton is a market for luxury retail. Three major players opened stores at West Edmonton Mall since the summer of 2019 and after seeing strong sales, landlord Triple Five is said to be looking for more luxury players to join the mix.
Louis Vuitton opened a 4,600 square foot store in June of 2019 in a prominent location on the mall’s second level. That was followed with Saint Laurent which opened in December of 2020 in a 2,880 square foot space nearby, with Gucci joining them in April of 2021 in a 5,000 square foot space. All three side-by-side retailers are said to be seeing remarkable success despite the pandemic with Gucci recently bringing in some ready-to-wear fashions.
The landlord is now said to be talking to numerous other luxury brands to potentially open stores nearby, given the proven sales numbers of the three newer retailers as well as brands such as Tiffany & Co. which has operated a store at West Edmonton Mall since October of 2013.
Luxury retail in Edmonton has shifted to West Edmonton Mall from downtown where for years Holt Renfrew was the main source for luxury goods. Holt Renfrew closed its two-level store at downtown Edmonton’s Manulife Place in early 2020. That resulted in the loss of brands such as Burberry and Max Mara which were carried at Holts and are no longer selling in the Edmonton market.
Those brands and others could open at West Edmonton Mall given strong sales for high-end goods. Prior to the pandemic, the median family income in Edmonton was $97,800, making it one of the highest in Canada for a major city. The cost of living in Edmonton, particularly real estate, is significantly lower than in Toronto and Vancouver which both also have lower household incomes.
It’s not necessarily the wealth of a city that dictates the number of luxury brands however — Ottawa is an example of that with its high household incomes and large population and lack of luxury brand stores. Spending patterns are key, and a growing brand-focused Asian population in Edmonton means that a market is there for luxury brands. One representative at the mall noted that even students of all backgrounds are saving up money to shop at stores such as Gucci, creating a market for luxury that isn’t just for the wealthy. A return of tourism is also expected to further boost spending from visitors from Alberta and beyond.
The shift of luxury to West Edmonton Mall signals the end of such high-end shopping in downtown Edmonton. In years past Edmonton’s downtown core boasted store locations for brands such as Escada, Ports, and Bally. The dominance of the car and a preference for the suburbs resulted in downtown Edmonton being one of only two major cities in Canada to see all downtown department stores shutter (the other being Winnipeg).
Calgary, a city that has typically been viewed as being wealthier and flashier than Edmonton, has also seen growth in luxury retail. The city’s downtown Holt Renfrew store saw Chanel move to a large street-level space in June of 2020, while the suburban CF Chinook Centre is home to Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Tiffany & Co., Saks Fifth Avenue and rumour has it Gucci will be joining them.
It’s not yet known what luxury brands might open at West Edmonton Mall. Burberry is a common name in several upscale malls in North America, and other brands such as Balenciaga and Fendi are also said to be looking to open more standalone stores in Canada. We’ll follow up with this article when we learn more about luxury brands opening stores at West Edmonton Mall.