A large U.S. outlet mall’s expansion into Ottawa is going to hurt all local retailers once it arrives next year, the executive responsible for Bayshore Shopping Centre said.
George Fiddler, who is responsible for Bayshore as vice-president of leasing with Ivanhoe Cambridge, is not excited about the prospect of U.S. giant Tanger Outlets opening 350,000 square feet of retail space close to Canadian Tire Centre in 2014.
“In a perfect world, I’d rather not see it happen,” said Mr. Fiddler, speaking as part of a panel at the Ottawa Real Estate Forum earlier this month. “Realistically, I know that it’s going to.”
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However, Bayshore won’t be any worse off than other retailers in the area, he said, in part because outlet malls tend to draw customers from a much larger area than a traditional shopping centre.
He pointed to an outlet mall in Vaughan Mills, outside of Toronto, which on average brings in shoppers from 45 minutes away. That’s in contrast to most shopping centres, which usually draw customers from 15 to 20 minutes away, he said.
”It’s taking a little bit from everybody,” said Mr. Fiddler. “Is it going to hurt? Yeah, but it’s going to hurt everybody a little bit. It’s not just because Bayshore’s the closest that I think it’s going to hurt.”
The Tanger outlet mall is just one of several new retail spaces set to arrive in Ottawa during the next few years. Both Bayshore and the Rideau Centre are undergoing multimillion-dollar expansions, while a large new shopping space is also on the way to Lansdowne Park.
Despite concerns about what Tanger’s expansion will mean, members of the panel said that Ottawa still has plenty of room for growth in retail space.
Cindy VanBuskirk, the general manager of the Rideau Centre, said Ottawa shopping centres are finally starting to catch up with the demand from big-name retailers who have wanted to expand into the city.
“There’s no shortage of people lined up to get in the door,” she said.
She viewed her competitors’ expansion plans as a positive. One shopping centre getting the first store for a major retailer in the city – Swedish clothing retailer H&M opened its first location in Ottawa this month, for example – makes it easier for others to get them in the future, she said.
Glenn Featherstone, who as vice-president of retail leasing with Morguard is responsible for the St. Laurent shopping centre east of downtown, pointed to a recent deal to bring in retailer American Eagle as an example of why he doesn’t think Ottawa is stretched too thin.
St. Laurent had been negotiating with the company for some time but couldn’t accommodate it due to a lack of space. The retailer was set to open sometime in October.
He also hinted that changes may be on the way for St. Laurent.
The shopping centre “needs a bit of polish,” he said. Morguard has also acquired the land around the facility, opening up the door to a potential expansion in the future.