Last week, Canada opened The Outlet Collection at Niagara, which quickly filled with thousands of shoppers looking for the bargains and brands they could previously only get in the United States.
“We are sending a clear message to the outlet shopping industry that we mean business,” Daniel E. Fournier, chairman and CEO of Ivanhoé Cambridge, told Buffalo News.
The outlet mall’s 520,000 square feet of space is filled with 94 retailers, and eight more are on the way. The $162 million mall is made up of rows of stores, each with its own entrance connected by a series of partly covered walkways. A separate food court sits enclosed in a stone-covered building at one end near a grassy area where shoppers can gather on Adirondack chairs, sit by a fireplace and listen to live music.
The Outlet Collection is a new concept for Ivanhoé Cambridge, which plans to replicate it at other malls around the world. Reactions to the open-air style of the mall were mixed as some loved it and some worries what would happen when winter hits.
One shopper Shelly Berenbaum said that the new mall was nice but that she would continue making her weekend-long shopping trips to the States every month, where many shopkeepers and her preferred hotelier know her by name. She told Buffalo News, “We have our routine. We do our shopping. We go out to dinner. We go to the movies.”
And though the grand-opening promotions made it difficult to compare prices, she thought there were still better bargains to be had in the States. “When you guys have sales, you have sales,” she said. She cited a pair of UGG boots marked down from $198 to $159 at the Canadian Outlet. A great price for Canada, but she got the same pair on clearance at the U.S. Saks outlet for $50 in February.
Christine Lalonde said she would still make her monthly trip to the U.S. to stock up on clothes at Walmart. Though there are Walmarts in Ontario, none has the larger sizes and styles she prefers. Marilyn Lock talked about differences in inventory and selection, as well, even under identical store banners. “Target over there, I love it. Target over here, forget it. It doesn’t have the same variety or the pricing,” she explained.
A lot of shoppers also said the new mall provided everything they needed to stay local. For instance, Girlyn Cayabyab, who has been venturing to Walden Galleria to shop every two weeks for years, said she would probably be spending more time at the Outlet Collection from now on. “By the time you go over the border and everything, I’d rather just pay a little extra and not have to deal with it.”
The economy in Ontario’s Niagara region has struggled at the second-highest in Canada, so Canadians hope its sleek new outlet mall will be enough to keep some more of those dollars at home. Ann Ackerman, VP of outlet marketing at Macerich, said, “While the newness of the competition will be intriguing to some shoppers, Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls is the largest outlet mall in the region today, and will soon bring even more brands,”
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