COVID-19 has produced a lot of bad news for Burnaby’s biggest mall.
Now, there is good news to report.
The Metropolis in Metrotown has seen many of its biggest tenants – like Microsoft – close up.
But other tenants have big plans by adding a flagship store. Spanish fashion giant Zara, part of the Inditex group, is busy building a 40,000 square foot shop in Metropolis.
That would make it one of the largest retail stores in all of Canada.
Zara sells all kinds of goods for men, women and children, including clothes, accessories, shoes, swimwear, beauty products and perfumes.
These additions are set amidst a backdrop of store closings – including the Freddy Pant Room, David’s Tea, Pink, Frank and Oak, the list goes on and on.
Meanwhile, standing retailers are stepping up plans for a transformed Christmas shopping season.
At Burnaby, Christmas is indeed coming early in the form of an escalating holiday shopping campaign – with businesses hoping they will receive good news during a dismal financial year ravaged by COVID-19.
The strategy aims to attract buyers early, improve their e-commerce game, and convince consumers to buy gifts for distant friends and family.
Indigo Books & Music Inc. from Burnaby in Metropolis at Metrotown has launched an advent card and calendar.
Hudson’s Bay Co. launched its Christmas collection of clothing and decorations six weeks in advance.
For Indigo CEO Heather Reisman, flexibility and health awareness are paramount.
After 15 store closings since March, the chain has transformed its customer experience with private shopping hours “for people who might be feeling really annoyed,” he said. Loyalty program members can visit outside of normal operating hours – usually before 10 a.m. and after 9 p.m. – to roam at will, free from crowds.
The 12 weeks leading up to New Year’s Day typically account for about a third of annual sales, he said.
“It’s impossible to completely make up for the nearly three months of nearly 200 physical stores that closed (earlier this year) … so our goal is to get close to last year’s sales, realizing that it will depend on customers spreading their time.”
Shipping and logistics continued to increase as the second wave of the pandemic began to break out.
While some companies rely on online bidding and curbside retrieval, London Drugs is enhancing its physical presence. The company plans to build queuing shelters in more than half of its 82 stores, including metal-roofed structures bolted to the building to protect customers from wind and possible snow.
Michael LeBlanc, senior adviser at the Retail Council of Canada, said consumers may have more shopping money on hand after spending less on vacations, travel and cappuccino lunches.
“Our message to Canadians for the holidays is: shop early and shop often. This is not a year to wait. And retailers are telling me they’ve seen the signs of gift buying,” LeBlanc said.
Seasonal clothing and items will go on sale early at retailers across the country as COVID-19 increases annual spikes in spending on Black Friday and Boxing Day. But unless the pandemic returns with all its power – the real possibility – the outright purchases will not completely disappear.
- With files from the Canadian Press
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