The Evolution of Shopping Malls in Vancouver

Twenty years ago, malls were not only the place to find the latest fashion and styles, but they were also a place to be entertained. As a one-stop shop, you could see a movie, play at the arcade, and eat at the food court without stepping outside.

Now with the rise of the online consumer, the retail landscape has taken a turn that even the most experienced brokers didn’t expect. Big box stores are no longer the sought-after destinations they once were, as shoppers shifted to the convenience of a click of a mouse over brick and mortar. Opting for boutique style shops over commercial centers, not to mention our valuable square footage, Vancouver’s consumption habits have affected many of our once prominent shopping malls.

Despite the challenges, there are a few developers that have adapted to the changing retail scape, adding a new element to their centers in an effort to keep crowds coming.


Park Royal 
Photo: Park Royal Facebook

Part traditional mall, part urban village, Park Royal has undergone major expansion over the past few years. In addition to combining indoor and open-air shopping, they’ve also added popular retailers and restaurants into their directory, which includes Aritzia, Kate Spade, Zara, and Glowbal Group’s Trattoria. Outside of the mall is The Village at Park Royal, which is designed to offer a neighborhood experience and an outdoor pedestrian-friendly shopping environment.

The much-anticipated newcomer to Park Royal is Simons, a 175-year-old family-owned Quebec fashion house that’s set to open on October 15th. With a cost estimated between $25-$30 million, this 100,000 square-foot, two-level store aims to become a cultural landmark, containing installations by B.C. artists like Douglas Coupland, Bobbie Burgers, and Jody Broomfield.


McCarthur Glen
Photo: McCarthur Glen/Facebook

Having opened just a few months ago, McCarthur Glen is the only designer outlet mall in Vancouver. Located near the Vancouver Airport, it was built on five business pillars to differentiate the consumer experience: international appeal, a high level of customer service, unique entertainment, stylish visual merchandising, and notable dining options. Shops are a mix of high-end storefronts as well as more accessible brands like Nike and Banana Republic.

Turns out it’s working, as it was recently reported in Business in Vancouver that traffic has been 66% above what was expected, setting a company record by recording its millionth visitor in only three months.


Tsawassen Mills
Photo: Ivanhoe Cambridge

Now in the midst of construction, Tsawassen Mills covers 1.2 million square feet of shopping that is expected to change the face of retail in the Lower Mainland. The outdoor mall will have 200 stores and 16 anchors; the biggest is Bass Pro Shop, which will cover 145,000 square feet. Besides merchandise, Bass will house an aquarium, boat repair, restaurant, and bowling alley. While this store is set to open next spring, the rest of the mall is scheduled for October 2016.

Other mall features include a ‘mancave’, a 1,100 seat food court, and an event space to host fashion shows. However, some question whether this ‘new experience’ will lead to a successful outcome. As a destination shopping center, a low Canadian dollar is vital to attract American consumers, as shoppers from Vancouver are unlikely to travel over two bridges to shop in Tsawassen.

Do you still head to shopping malls, or do you opt for online purchases? Tweet @naiopvancouver and let us know!

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