Big Boxes Heading Downtown

With growth controls making suburban properties less attractive and wealth becoming concentrated in older centres, Canada's big box retailers are looking downtown for new locations.

"[S]ome of the biggest names in the big-box sector have decided they are missing out on a huge customer base in Canada's city centres and are repackaging themselves accordingly, with as-yet-unknown consequences for the urban neighbourhoods targeted for expansion.

With provincial governments in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec getting tougher on suburban sprawl, land on the urban fringe is getting more expensive [...] At the same time, big-box developers and retailers have come to the conclusion that as downtowns become denser and more gentrified [...]ignoring a growing population of affluent urban customers begins to look rather silly.

All of this might signal a transformation in the basic economics of big-box retail. [...] But no one knows yet what will happen to independent businesses if and when big boxes become a dominant presence in urban areas, and not one-off curiosities."

Full Story: Big-box stores venture into foreign terrain

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