While other sectors in Saskatoon continue to struggle, retail continues to blaze its own trail.
Nearly 275,000 square feet of inventory was completed during the 12-month period ending September 30, 2016, more than half of which encompasses the new Costco store in the city’s southeast. An additional 180,000 square feet is under construction and scheduled for completion this year. A further 566,000 square feet in proposed development is expected to start in 2017, too. More than 70 per cent of the new retail developments are pre-leased.
About 4.3 per cent of the city’s 14 million square feet of retail space is vacant – much of it concentrated downtown – up slightly from 3.9 per cent a year ago.
Keith Webb, vice-president of Colliers’ Saskatoon office, credited the relatively strong performance to an almost complete lack of speculative building in recent years and retailers signing longer-term leases.
Other new banners that either have opened or are about to open in Saskatoon include Bed Bath & Beyond, GoodLife Fitness and Save-On-Foods.
Webb believes the vast majority of retailers will renew their leases when they come due, largely because the city and surrounding area is “under-retailed” for its 300,000 population.
He doesn’t see any storm clouds on the retailing horizon but he does believe that locally owned businesses will continue to be squeezed by their big-box and multi-national competitors.
“I think independent businesses are a great theme but they’re a dying breed, particularly if you’re in fashion,” he said.