COVID-19 has been wreaking havoc on people’s health and many businesses’ bottom lines but some shopping malls have remained open even though most tenants are closed. The 99-store, 719,212-square foot CF Pacific Centre is one of those malls, although owner Cadillac Fairview’s Western Canadian director, Tom Knoepfel, told Business In Vancouver April 2 that the company is evaluating whether to continue to stay open.
“We’re still assessing that,” he said. “At the current time, we have five or six retailers that have remained open. Almost all of them are food-service businesses.”
CF Pacific Centre is the seventh largest shopping centre in the province, ranked by leasable square feet, behind Metropolis at Metrotown, Park Royal, Guildford Town Centre, Tsawwassen Mills, Coquitlam Centre and Woodgrove Centre.
Closing the mall completely could prompt savings on maintenance.
Knoepfel said downtown pedestrian traffic has dwindled to very low numbers but that there are essential-service workers and some office workers in the downtown core who still need to access their facilities. Those workers rely on some of the food-service businesses that remain open, he added.
“There are a few in the food court,” Knoepfel said. “I prefer not to name the food court ones because some days they’re open and some days they’re not.”
Cadillac Fairview’s Richmond Centre has a higher number of retailers that have remained open, he said, adding that while fashion retailers have closed there is an insurance company and some other service-type retailers that remain open.
BIV asked if there was any blanket policy that Cadillac Fairview was following to provide relief to retailers or if arrangements were being made on a case-to-case basis.
“I can’t really comment on that,” Knoepfel said.
Large department stores, such as the Hudson’s Bay Co. and Nordstrom, closed their Vancouver stores weeks ago, and were joined by many small businesses as well. Those closures are intended to help keeping people from clustering and spreading COVID-19, which as of April 1 had caused 25 deaths and 1,066 confirmed infections in the province. Almost all of the deaths, however, are connected with outbreaks at seniors’ care homes.
The retail closures have an impact on the economy as well, however, given that statistics from the Retail Council of Canada last year said British Columbians spend nearly $85 billion on retail annually, supporting the more than 290,000 people who are employed in that sector in this province.