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Greyfield Power Centres and Ghost Boxes? Power Centre Vacancy Rates in Canada, 2005 - 2009

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Greyfield Power Centres and Ghost Boxes? Power Centre Vacancy Rates in Canada, 2005 - 2009

By Dr. Tony Hernandez

Power centres are now a well established shopping centre type in Canada. Since the late 1980s the country has witnessed the widespread development and clustering of big box stores into a broad range of power centre venues. Over the last decade the CSCA has been at the forefront of tracking and reporting changes in power centre retailing through comprehensive annual field survey and mapping of all the power centres across the country. As the number and size of power centres has increased so to have the questions with regard to their vitality and viability. Can the waves of power retail development continue? Are we approaching saturation? Is Canada destined for the ‘greyfield’ phenomenon that has blighted parts of the US retail landscape? This research letter turns its attention to vacancy rates and how they have changed at power centres across the country. The analysis presented provides data on vacancy in terms of size of stores and length of vacancy over time. The data highlights increasing vacancy rates at power centres, however, limited vacancy of big box retailers, with vacancies instead increasing amongst the smaller ancillary retail stores. It is envisaged, due to the pace of the post-recession recovery, that our 2010 power centre data will reveal continued increases in vacancies and potentially the emergence of more ghost boxes.


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