With the recent opening of Japanese fashion brand Uniqlo at CF Chinook Centre in Calgary, it may be only a matter of time before the popular retailer also opens in sister shopping centre CF Market Mall.
In fact, white hoarding is in place currently for a huge space in the heart of Market Mall, near the children’s play area, with a building permit sign on the walls for a “redemise”.
But officially there is no confirmation yet on what’s happening in that space.
“We have a new client that will take possession in the New Year and be joining our retail mix which I can’t name,” said Paige O’Neill, General Manager of Market Mall.
“They’re taking over about four stores.”
When asked if this is following in the footsteps of the big opening at CF Chinook Centre recently, O’Neill said: “Everything follows on the footsteps of Chinook. Athleta, JD Sports. When retailers are looking at a marketplace like Calgary and they’re looking to place one or two stores, I’d like to think that they’re looking at Chinook and Market Mall because we completely cover the city and they probably wouldn’t need many stores beyond that.”
The past year has been a busy one for leasing activity at Market Mall with some big retailers still to come in the near future.
“We had a lot of openings early in the New Year,” said O’Neill.
In the food court, there was Hurry Curry, Lava Grill, Kor, Stuffies.
“Our food court really became full again and also Don’t Yell At Me which is a bubble tea place – very unique name,” she said.
“Through the Spring and Summer, mostly in June and July, we had Pandora relocate and built a new store. We’ve had Nike open, JD Sports open. The Latest Scoop has relocated. We’re making some room for some new clients and Team Town Sports opened.
“Decathlon, which took over the Toys R Us location, will open at the end of September. Athleta opened too.”
Alo is expected to open in early 2024.
O’Neill said Decathlon opens a new market for the north part of the city. The retailer currently has a location in the south part of Calgary at Southcentre Mall.
“It’s a unique retail offering. It has a wide variety of products. It also doesn’t necessarily compete too much with the Team Towns and the Sport Cheks to a certain degree, especially equipment wise. They don’t necessarily carry certain things in a larger capacity like hockey and golf whereas that market has been taken over by a lot of the other players in the city. But they have everything from equestrian to hunting to cycling,” she said.
“It’s definitely unique. The price point is unique. And they carry their own brands. So it’s definitely a nice, unique feature to north Calgary.”
The athleisure retail market is booming these days.
“I think COVID had an influence on that, whereby people were working from home. They weren’t necessarily in the suit and ties. And we’ve seen very much of a transition and even the athleisure stores carry business casual in some respects. If you walk into an Athleta, you can find workout clothes, you can find something that you could actually wear to work. These days, depending on your environment and your profession, that would be acceptable for sure – and fashionable actually,” said O’Neill.
“Even Nike carries some clothing. JD Sports some of the streetwear. They’re all sort of expanding. Even lululemon has the wear men and women could wear to work. I think fashion has shifted in some workplaces. It’s become a little more business casual, casual, depending on the environment.”
O’Neill said the food court at Market Mall is coming into its own. Some of the establishments like Hurry Curry are more of a fast casual concept which is not traditional food court offerings.
“There’s definitely a newer patience factor I would say with some of the clients in food courts these days. I think the quality is there. A lot of the food court clients are still struggling with food prices, higher prices, struggling to find people in the workforce,” she said.
O’Neill said traffic at Market Mall is up from last year but still not quite at 2019 levels.
“But it’s very strong traffic and we’re starting to see obviously the back to school and we’ll have the traditional lulls going into Christmas but traffic’s been pretty good,” she said, adding the growth of the nearby mixed-use University District with its residential component will be beneficial for Market Mall.”
“The density in north Calgary is also beneficial. It’s growing. There’s still communities growing in the north. I think going into the Christmas season with all the new stores opening, we anticipate a pretty good Christmas season here.”