With Winnipeg's massive new fashion outlet mall set to open in less than two weeks, at least one retail analyst says existing businesses should get ready for tough retail competition ahead.
"Existing retailers, they're going to have a brutal, brutal suffering from this opening. I have no doubt about it," Fang Wan, a marketing professor with the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba, told CBC News.
Outlet Collection Winnipeg will be the first and only dedicated outlet shopping centre in Manitoba when it opens May 3, following less than two years of construction on Kenaston Boulevard and Sterling Lyon Parkway in the city's southwest.
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Reporters got a sneak peek of the 400,000-square-foot indoor retail space on Thursday, as construction crews completed the finishing touches.
"There really is a missing portion in the retail hierarchy of pure outlet. And the fact that it's all together under one roof, the fact that it's climate-controlled, is very unique particularly to the outlet development game," said John Scott, its vice-president of development.
The mall will feature up to 100 outlet retailers, including about 30 newcomers to the Winnipeg market, like Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH, Calvin Klein Outlet Store, Banana Republic Factory Store, Under Armour and Designer Shoe Warehouse (DSW).
While most of the mall's stores will be ready for shoppers at the grand opening, a few retailers, like F21 Red, Winners and the Rockport and Michael Kors outlet stores, will open in September.
Wan said while the outlet mall's opening will change the city's retail landscape, existing businesses can succeed if they have built a loyal customer base or developed a strategy to remain competitive.
"I hope they have started the counteractive kind of strategy way before this opening," she said. "But when it's open, I think they should see change, and they should be prepared for that change."
At the same time, Wan said more competition will mean more shopping opportunities for Manitobans.
Online shopping not a threat
The people behind Outlet Collection Winnipeg hope their mall will also stem the flow of Manitobans heading south of the border to seek deals at outlet malls in the United States.
Scott said he's not worried about the growing popularity of online shopping.
"People still want to touch and feel the product, try it on. And if you provide an enjoyable environment, we believe that we'll be successful," he said.
"Online does help the retailer as well. I mean, it allows people to review product and price check and things like that and be interactive, so we're embracing that approach."
By the numbers
When it officially opens May 3, Outlet Collection Winnipeg will have:
- 400,000 square feet of leasable retail space.
- 100 retailers at full capacity.
- Six anchor tenants: Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th, Old Navy, F21 Red, DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse, Nike, Winners.
- 15 food concession retailers, including Bar Burrito, Freshly Squeezed, Starbucks and Sticky's Candy.
- 2,300 parking spaces.
- 80 bicycle parking spaces.
- 1,300 full-time and part-time retail jobs created, plus 400 construction-related jobs.
(Source: Ivanhoé Cambridge)
Some of the stores coming to Outlet Collection
- Banana Republic Factory Store
- Call it Spring Outlet
- Calvin Klein Outlet
- Chatters Salon & Beauty Supply
- DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse
- Famous Footwear Outlet
- Gap Factory Store
- Levi's Outlet
- Lindt Outlet
- Lolë Woman
- Lucky Brand Jeans Outlet
- Michael Hill
- Mountain Warehouse
- Old Navy
- Peoples Jewellers
- Quarks Outlet
- Saks OFF 5TH
- Samsonite Outlet
- Suzy Shier
- The Body Shop
- Think Kitchen
- Tommy Hilfiger Outlet
- Under Armour
(Retailers that don't currently have outlet stores in Winnipeg are in bold.)