Calgary’s CF Chinook Centre experienced a very busy holiday shopping season and the city’s most popular mall is gearing up for a very positive 2023 with the addition of a number of high profile retailers this year.
“We’re going to be giving shoppers a whole bunch of new reasons to come here in the upcoming year in part because of the tenants that we’re going to be bringing on,” said Darren Milne, General Manager of CF Chinook Centre.
“So if you looked at 2022 and 2023 we did and will do 120,000 square feet of new leasing here at the centre. Not including renewals or anything like that. Just strictly new leasing. And in 2022 a couple of those deals that were really well received was a first to market Athleta. And then we opened the Peloton store.
“2023 we have a lot of new to market stores that are coming. For example, the first Uniqlo, for Calgary, is going to be opening later this year. We have a Nike flagship store that’s going to be opening later this year. We’re doing a pretty significant expansion of the Zara. We’re going to be relocating and expanding Victoria’s Secret. Herschel just opened and that’s been a really popular brand and a brand that a lot of people have wanted.
“Mejuri is about to open. Jo Malone is going to be opening later this year. And we’re also in the process of relocating and expanding Birks and then within the Birks store will be a Rolex shop. That’s been a brand that our shoppers have wanted for quite a long time.
“And over and above that we’ve got a couple of more deals that are pretty firm. One is firm. It will be a new tenant in an athleisure category. We’re just not able to announce yet. But they’ll be here later this year. And then we’re very close to doing a deal with a U.S. based restaurant who will have a first to market and probably their only store in Calgary will be here at Chinook Centre. That one is not finalized yet.”
Milne said full December sales for the shopping centre are not in yet but looking at November sales Chinook had a really strong month heading into Christmas.
He said sales productivity for the mall as a whole in November compared to November 2021 was up double digits and some categories that really got hit hard by COVID have more than fully recovered. For example, the food court and specialty food seem to be coming back.
“Even if you looked at categories that still actually did relatively well during the pandemic, like athleisure for example because nobody was really buying dress clothes anymore, athleisure did quite well during the pandemic,” he said, adding that this category also saw a double digit increase. Jewelry was also strong.
“We saw some really strong sales coming into Christmas. Our expectation is that would have continued through to Christmas. Certainly traffic was very good.”
Milne said there’s been some pent-up demand for sales but also the economics for Calgary and Alberta are good with a high average household income. And people are feeling relatively comfortable about their disposable income and their desire to spend that.
“If you combine that not only with Chinook Centre but CF properties in general, we offer the kinds of retailers that people want to shop at and they want to purchase from. And retailers for their part this year, I think a lot of retailers felt like there might have been some headwinds coming into Christmas so you saw some really good sales prior to Christmas even prior to Black Friday. You saw some really good coordination from retailers across their whole omnichannel platform versus just focusing on one or the the other. I think just in general there was a lot of pieces that contributed to the strong sales. The foundation is really starting to firm up,” explained Milne.
One of the trends these days with shopping centre properties is the densification of land, adding buildings specifically for residential use but also some commercial space.
“We still have plans to densify. I don’t know if that will start this year. We not only own CF Chinook Centre proper but we have some outparcels that we own as well,” said Milne. “I think that if you don’t see the densification on some of those pieces start this year you’ll see it start potentially the year after. Nothing’s finalized yet. But certainly we’ve got plans in place and that’s a piece that we want to move forward as well.”