Best Space Use Models for CRE Properties During & After COVID19

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Due to COVID-19 health concerns, many businesses across Canada are operating at a limited capacity. Some provinces in the country, just this month, closed non-essential stores to prevent the further spread of the virus.

That accelerated the growth of online shopping, takeout orders and the need for more delivery service. Now retailers and CRE property owners are facing a more significant challenge – what to do with their empty or limited retail space?

Here are some of the best space-use models retailers are using right now.

Industrial is the new Retail. Retail is now Office. Restaurants are kitchens-only.

Mixed-use properties have always included retail, but now retail spaces themselves are becoming more mixed-use.

Not only are retail mall spaces converting to warehouse use, but retail centres are also welcoming office workers to help businesses with high workplace density. Many are turning their retail space into medical offices, research centres, daycare centres, self-service grocery stores, and more.

When it comes to food, people now mostly rely on delivery services and takeouts. Thus this is causing restaurants to make the switch to the ghost-kitchen model, where they only use the kitchen space to make food and prep food for delivery.

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Canadians Kickstart Holiday Shopping Early This Year

Although we’re still a couple weeks shy of the holidays, Canadians are already feeling the holiday spirit. 

Gift shopping is in full swing as more and more people are visiting their local malls and plazas, no doubt with the intention of beating the holiday rush. 

Not to be outdone, retailers are restocking the shelves and going all out with their marketing gimmicks to drive shoppers to their doors. 

‘Tis the season to think ahead!


Retailers Are Reimagining Their Holiday Strategies

That’s right! All over, we’re noticing retail giants accelerating their holiday plans to evolve in a year that has been completely transformed by the pandemic. 

The trend is two-fold. Some retailers are going full throttle on attracting buyers early to their stores whereas others are spending their dimes on online storefronts. 

What safety precautions are physical in-store retailers taking these holidays to protect their patrons?

For one, we’re seeing the mandatory use of PPE for both clerks and customers, and the installation of hand sanitization stations at key entry and exit points. 

Some are even going so far as to build queue shelters outside for people during the rain, wind and snow.

That being said, the anxiety of lower revenues this year as a result of fewer impulse purchases and financial drawbacks are a concern for many retailers. 


Canadian Shoppers Still Seem to Love In-Store Shopping

PwC Canada’s 2020 Holiday Outlook still estimates that 59% of Canadian consumers will complete their holiday shopping in-stores this year. 

One potential reason?

Most of these shoppers belong to the 55+ year age group, and 60% of whom are planning to drop by a physical store to purchase at least 3/4 of their gifts. 

As for Gen X and Gen Z, 45% and 50% respectively are planning to complete their holiday shopping from a physical outlet. 


Online Shoppers Are Still Expecting Curbside Pick-up at the Outlet

33% of online shoppers are still gravitating towards curbside pickup. The reason? Greater convenience. Shoppers don’t want to have to wait even 1 or 2 days more for their packages to arrive. 

This way, they still get their stuff early, while beating the in-store rush. 


Retailers Need to Evolve to the COVID Way of Life

It’s natural that retailers who resist change in the face of this pandemic will struggle to turn a profit. 

The strategic ones who pivot in time will experience immense success and survive during this daunting year of uncertainty. 


To Recap

The holiday shopping season is well underway in Canada, however, most stores and patrons are keeping health and safety at the forefront. 

Retailers are moving to adapt their stores to survive during these uncertain times. Even the smallest of strategic changes can help them close the gap in revenues that will arise due to the pandemic. 

While most shoppers are sticking to physical shopping, we’re also seeing a growing trend of online stores that have enforced interesting marketing tactics to entice the wary shopper. 

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Retail Reaching New Heights in Edmonton

The coronavirus pandemic has left its mark on many businesses around the world, however, the city of  Edmonton seems to be rising to the challenge.

Alberta’s capital seems completely unphased, and even thriving amidst the crisis – its success continues to be driven by strong retail and increasing interest from foreign and domestic CRE investors.

So, if you were looking for the right Canadian city that can bring a great return on investment, Edmonton might just be it.


It’s Not Only Downtown Edmonton That’s Thriving

While traditionally, most retailers have been focusing on downtown for their new locations, this isn’t the case in Edmonton. The entire city is undergoing a retail revolution, and new shopping centers and locations are being opened all around.

In South Edmonton Common, there’s now a new Nordstrom Rack and Saks Off 5th, a new Canadian Tire, and even a large Ikea. The Southgate Centre has some of the highest sales per square foot in all of Canada, and over $130 million was just recently invested in Londonderry Mall.


The City of Edmonton Blossoming

There are major construction plans in various locations in Edmonton, thanks to the Valley Line transit. The Bonnie Doon Shopping Centre is set to be transformed into a huge mix-use district with plenty of public spaces, new senior housing locations, more retail space, and more residential units, which will draw in better foot traffic.

A new shopping centre is also being planned at Millwoods Town Centre with thousands of new housing units and retail and restaurant spaces.


Read more about it here!


Saskatchewan Introduces New Measures for Reopening Businesses

It will be a while before all businesses can return to operating at full capacity in Saskatchewan. However, many of the imposed coronavirus measures are set to be loosened over the coming weeks in an attempt to restore the economy, which means some businesses should get ready to reopen.

This comes as a great relief to many Canadian retailers, restaurant owners, and CRE investors, as things are looking up.

Since the reopening of Saskatchewan will occur in phases, and many preventative guidelines will still need to be followed, businesses will have to come up with strategies that will help them recover expenses and turn profits.


Retailers First to Open 

Many clothing retailers have adapted to the coronavirus lockdown by offering online orders and deliveries and curbside pick-ups. This trend is expected to continue even after May 19 when they’re scheduled to open their doors once again.

This is primarily because clothing retailers will have to change the way they operate when they reopen.


Bars and Restaurants to Follow Soon After 

Although the exact date hasn’t been determined as of yet, in the weeks after clothing retailers have reopened, restaurants and bars will be allowed to do the same.

The hospitality industry was among those that have been hit the hardest by the coronavirus. So it’s not surprising that bar and restaurant owners are excited to follow any imposed measure as long as they are given a chance to reopen.

And many measures will need to be followed.


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Malls Adapting to the Newest Changing Trends in Saskatchewan

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The past few years have been quite challenging for some Saskatchewan malls and shopping centers. The rise of E-commerce retailers and online shopping, in general, has evidently caused a decrease in foot traffic and a relatively significant drop in profits.

Luckily, there’s a silver lining. Many of Saskatchewan’s most prominent malls are adapting to the changing trends and are quickly becoming consumer hotpots once again. If you have an interest in Canadian retail and commercial real estate, this might just be the right time for investing.


New Types of Stores Opening up Across Canada’s Malls 

As one door closes, another one opens. And while some of the biggest tenants are leaving Saskatchewan malls, Regina’s Cornwall is set to become the home for many renowned brands. Urban Planet, Ardene, and Eclipse are just some of the newcomers in this downtown mall.

When it comes to shoe and apparel stores they might be the minority in the malls of the future; however, expect to see an increase in the number of medical offices across Canada’s malls.

Dentists, optometrists, private general practitioners, and more are expected to set up shop in malls in Saskatchewan, Alberta, Ontario, and other provinces. Even more so as events like global pandemics and the normal flu season and other diseases continue to occur.


Experience-Based Malls Are Here to Stay 

Besides medical offices, Canada’s malls will boast a few more types of businesses. The malls that thrive and survive are those that don’t just offer shopping, but those that offer experiences.


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Manulife Place Store in Downtown Edmonton is Getting Redeveloped

The iconic Manulife Place store sitting on the corner between 101st Street and 102nd Avenue in downtown Edmonton has been at the same spot since 1983. It’s a famous brand in Canada, and people were used to seeing their store in Edmonton.

After almost 40 years, the company has decided to redevelop its store and revamp it completely. This comes at a time when most of Edmonton is blossoming once again. As Manulife head of asset management, Ted Willcocks says, “The City of Edmonton is undergoing a renaissance that will breathe life into its downtown service and amenity offerings.”


Primary Goals of the Redevelopment 

The whole redevelopment project has four primary goals that need to be achieved after 18 months:

-Reconstruction of the exterior façade with a modern look.

-Retail storefronts will be placed at the exterior to improve the shopping experience and a better view of the store.

-The interior will get new communal areas, LED lighting, and new flooring.

-The Manulife Place employees will also get new amenities, including a rooftop terrace with gardens stretching across 45,000 square feet.


Downtown Edmonton Retail is Attractive to Investors 

In the last few years, both downtown Edmonton and the ICE District have been under reconstruction. Various towers and buildings have been reconstructed for retail stores, business spaces, offices, hotels, and residential purposes.

The reconstruction of the Manulife Place store is just another project in line. It shows that the city as a whole is doing well and that companies are able to invest back into their infrastructure.


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Omnichannel: Creating Online and Offline Experiences for Customers

The way consumers shop has changed exponentially over the years. To no surprise, consumers are now shopping both online and offline. With the rise of e-commerce, the ability to obtain goods has grown significantly. Some brands choose to stay brick-and-mortar while some choose to stay strictly e-commerce. While sticking to one stream works for many, the best way to encapsulate a wider array of consumers is to create experiences both online and offline which is also known as omnichannel retailing.

What is omnichannel in regards to retail?

Omnichannel includes the sale of goods/service in both physical and digital means. For example, a clothing store has a physical location where people can shop as well as an online catalogue/website where they can make purchases as well. In essence, omnichannel is being wherever the customer is.

How can adopting an omnichannel model help retail shop owners?

With the growth of e-commerce becoming more and more prevalent, there have been many retailers who have been forced to close their doors due to their inability to compete with the convenience factor e-commerce shopping has. On the other hand, e-commerce lacks that in-person experience many look for. 

Omni-channel caters to those who want a convenient method of shopping and those who yearn for that in-person experience. The ability to cater to two different demographics can help retail owners increase their profit and reach significantly more consumers than they would sticking to one stream.

How can retail shop owners create a digital presence?

Creating a digital presence takes time, but is a well worth it process. Many retailers create (or hire someone to create) a catalogue-type website that displays all the products eligible to be sold online. Retail shop owners can connect this to social media, create digital ads, or promote it through their physical location.

Adopting an omnichannel model can help retail businesses increase their overall traffic and profit. It all comes down to analyzing whether the business can cater to the digital space and how it will and work for the other all betterment of the business.

Want to learn more about the omnichannel experience? Read on here!


Niche Businesses Paving the Way for Retailers

Toronto is a city full of diversity; from its people right down to its cuisine. With the increase of diverse immigrants flocking to Canada came an influx of new businesses, unbeknownst to Toronto at one point. One major proponent immigrants brought to Canada is the authentic cuisine of their native land. A popular cuisine that has made its way into the commercial scene in Toronto is Syrian food.


Those who made a new home from Syria to Canada have created unity with Canadians through their food. Many, however, face a few barriers – language being a major one – making it difficult to find work in this economy. Thus, many have resorted to opening their own businesses, selling their favourite native cuisine.


What can large and small retailers alike learn from foreigners?


Many retailers think on a grandeur scale, adhering to large trends and technological advancements to further heighten their business models. Tech disruptions and the decline of trends can be detrimental to this strategy. While everyone would like to develop a utilitarian approach and provide for the masses, there is opportunity barely uncovered in niches such as Syrian restaurants and markets.


When it comes to booming business, many don’t consider niche businesses to be at the forefront of profit generation, however, foreigners are proving there is substantial room for monetary gain within businesses that are authentic. These businesses typically have a base of extremely loyal customers who not only come back but bring in new crowds as well, creating even more revenue.


When it comes to investments in the commercial industries, retailers can take a note from foreign businesses that bring a touch of their old home to their new home. Many niche businesses remain in business for long periods of time due to the loyal customer base and curiosity of Canadians.


Learn more about the Syrian food trend in Toronto and how small businesses continue to flourish across the booming city:—syrian-food-trend-in-toronto


Canada’s Retail Sector: What’s Maintaining it’s Strong Presence in the Market?

Amidst the rise of e-commerce and the ability to purchase nearly everything via your smartphone or computer, many have shown concern when it comes to the retail market. While e-commerce provides a convenient means of obtaining consumer needs, the physical retail market possesses a plethora of attributes that keep consumer traffic running steady. Marcus and Millichap reported that in 2018, transactions online increased by 20% however, only 4% of the Canadian retail activity took a hit. The unique traits physical retail markets encompass contribute highly to their authority within the consumer market.



A major factor contributing to the continued success of retail shops is the consumer experience. The ability to physically interact with tangible means and various services bodes well with consumers. Retail stores, such as clothing shops, continue to see a high amount of consumer traffic; this can be correlated to the desire for consumers to try-on clothing and browse various outlets.

Service-oriented businesses providing services such as fitness centres and restaurants thrive due to the desire for a memorable experience that cannot be obtained through digital means. The ability to create an experience and explore tangible elements continues to be a strong point for the Canadian retail market.


High-end markets

Canada’s retail real estate market continues to thrive when it comes to high-end sales. While luxury goods can be obtained online, many looking to spend copious amounts of money on a product or service would rather do so in person to ensure they are getting their moneys’ worth. The wave of tourism in Canada also contributes to the influx of luxury goods purchased in Canada. Marcus and Millichap reported a 2.4% rise in luxury expenditures in relation to tourism within Canada in the third quarter of 2018. For those in the high-end retail market, the sales continue to grow thanks to the boom of tourism and the demand for luxury products.


Moving into 2019, the forecast predicts favourable outcomes for retail real estate investors. Albeit, the growth of e-commerce is moving rapidly, the plethora of attributes retail shops provide to consumers can ensure their place within the realm of shopping remains at a high.

Learn more about Canada’s retail sector growth here:

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Commercial Property Investments Show No Signs of Slowing Down in Canada

Canada is home to a multifarious of opportunities in the commercial property investment sector. From the suburban portions that boast significantly lower costs to the heart of major cities that boast convenience for consumers, there is something for everyone when it comes to commercial property investments.


Towards the end of 2018, commercial property investments were still running strong and 2019 is set to be a prime year for investors in the space. Despite the departure of a surfeit of massive brick-and-mortar chains, the demand for retail, industrial, and other commercial properties remains high. With the demand for these spaces remaining high, the supply is low; causing an uproar in competition and pricing.


Cities such as Toronto tend to be the safest for investment funds due to the diverse economy the city boasts, however with that being said, supply is especially low. Ergo, prices for commercial real estate are significantly higher in Toronto and cities alike and properties tend to stay on the market for very short periods of time, with many jumping at the opportunity to own property in such a diverse city.


On the other hand, places such as Alberta are seeing an intense increase in investments, mainly due to the affordability in the market when compared to larger, more dense areas such as Toronto. This back the motion that the commercial property market is not slowing down any time soon; people will continue to invest in prime real estate, whether it be in the big city or the reasonably priced outskirts.


What’s the forecast for retail investments in Canada?


As previously mentioned, the commercial real estate market is showing no signs of slowing down and growth is inevitable as we move further into 2019. The retail markets, in particular, are showing vast growth due to the possession of in-person customer experience that many individuals still look for when shopping. Tech sectors are also seeing continuous growth and account for a significant amount of commercial property investments.


The trends for 2019 are looking up when it comes to commercial real estate as more and more people are seeing the opportunities arising from Canada.


Read more about commercial property investments and their place in the Canadian market here: