High-end retailers shift from Edmonton’s downtown core to North America’s largest mall

They are big brands that often have big price tags, and they would typically be found in Edmonton’s downtown core.

“Holt Renfrew, unfortunately, closed in January, which was quite a blow to luxury retail in Edmonton,” retail analyst Craig Patterson said.

Hudson’s Bay announced earlier this year it would be closing its city centre location in the fall. These closures are diverting high-end retailers elsewhere.

Read more: Hudson’s Bay in Edmonton City Centre mall to close

“So now what it appears is West Edmonton Mall is taking those brands that would have been in Holt Renfrew and are putting them in stand-alone stores in the shopping centre,” Patterson said.

Patterson said stand-alone Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent stores are heading to West Edmonton Mall.

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“Now what we’re seeing is a retail mix in the shopping centre, which includes some fairly substantial luxury brands that I think will be a significant draw to the shopping centre from well beyond the Edmonton area,” Patterson said.

In 2013, owner of the Green House Mikhail Prime opened a second restaurant located down the street from where Holt Renfrew used to be.

Mikhail Prime, owner of the Green House in Edmonton, in front of his now-closed downtown location.
Mikhail Prime, owner of the Green House in Edmonton, in front of his now-closed downtown location. Chris Chacon/Global News

“The dream was to be here to have a brand here. We were born here in Edmonton,” Prime said.

His dream didn’t turn out the way he had hoped.

“Coming into downtown is not only a trek but it can be a challenge with the transit issues,” Prime said.

Add on the impacts of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Prime decided to close his downtown location and continue operating his first restaurant at the University of Alberta, which opened in 2009.

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“When Holt Renfrew, which is also a large brand, decides that it wants to leave somewhere, it tells you the ground is shifting. If they can’t survive, how can a small business survive?” Prime said.

“Despite the wonderful efforts that we have seen over the years from parties looking to revive downtown Edmonton, it is still struggling. It is not a vibrant place. There is a perception that there is a lack of safety there,” Patterson said.

As for the businesses themselves, Patterson said these high-end retailers are expected to do well, especially with people using money from skipped vacations.

For Prime, he said he would consider opening another restaurant in one of several malls around the city.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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