Canada Becoming ‘Americanized’ as Luxury Brands Choose Malls over High Streets

Although luxury brands have traditionally tended to locate along upscale Canadian high streets, a recent phenomenon has seen luxury brands choosing mall locations. Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre was first to create an American-style ‘luxury wing’ in Canada, and a number of other shopping centres are following the trend. Toronto-based luxury lifestyle consultancy Winston Collective  recently completed a study with a list of Canada’s free-standing luxury brands and luxury concessions to determine the country’s top-10 retail ‘luxury nodes’. Remarkably, seven of the top-10 luxury nodes are within shopping centres.
Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre spearheaded the trend with the creation of a luxury wing. Over the past couple of years, several first-to-Canada luxury brands have opened in the mall including Bulgari, David Yurman, Jimmy Choo, Moncler, John Varvatos and Longchamp. In total, 15 free-standing luxury brands and 8 luxury concessions are located at Yorkdale, with most concessions locating within luxury department store Holt Renfrew.
Despite the luxury mall trend, Canada’s top two luxury nodes continue to be located on upscale high streets. Toronto’s Bloor Street West and adjacent Yorkville neighbourhood houses 23 free-standing luxury brands and 11 shop-in-store concessions, including top brands such as Chanel, Hermes, Prada and Gucci. Vancouver’s downtown ‘Luxury Zone’ ranked second in the study with 21 free-standing luxury brands, located along and adjacent to the 1000 Block of Alberni Street between the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver and Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver.
Winston Collective’s study determined Canada’s top-10 luxury retail nodes to include the following:
1) Bloor Street West/Yorkville, Toronto (23 free-standing luxury brands, 11 concessions)
2) Vancouver ‘Luxury Zone’ (21 free-standing)
3) Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Toronto (15 free-standing, 8 concessions)
4) Downtown Montreal (4 free-standing, 13 concessions)
5) Pacific Centre/Howe Street, Vancouver (6 free-standing, 9 concessions)
6) The CORE, downtown Calgary (10 concessions)
7) Oakridge Shopping Centre, Vancouver (5 free-standing)
8) Sherway Gardens, Toronto (5 free-standing)
9) Chinook Centre, Calgary (3 free-standing)
10) West Edmonton Mall, Edmonton (2 free-standing)
Remarkably, Toronto and Vancouver are each home to three of Canada’s top-10 luxury nodes. Montreal, Edmonton and Calgary also ranked in the study, with Calgary housing two luxury retail nodes.
Winston Collective Founder and Principle, Brian Winston, explained how although luxury brands are increasingly locating in malls, streetfront locations will ultimately be prime space for luxury brands as luxury retail continues to evolve in Canada. Luxury brands will continue to seek space in Toronto and Vancouver in particular, according to Mr. Winston, as both cities continue to see increasing numbers of affluent and fashion-forward Asian locals and tourists.

Louis Vuitton at Holt Renfew, Vancouver