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Power Retail Vacancy in Canada: 2010


Power Retail Vacancy in Canada: 2010

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 ‘greyfi eld’ 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 updated analysis provides data on vacancy in terms of size of stores and length of vacancy over time. It highlights an overall increase in vacancy rates between 2006 to 2010 rising to a peak during the recession in 2009 followed by a small decline last year. Despite the overall increase in vacancy rates over the last five years there is limited vacancy of big box retailers, with vacancies instead increasing amongst the smaller ancillary retail stores. Demand for big box space appears to have stayed relatively strong over recent years. However, given the rate of big box growth in Canada the ghost box phenomenon remains on the horizon. The data reveals a small but growing number of larger stores that remained vacant throughout 2009 and 2010.

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