Edmonton shoppers overwhelmingly visited malls, box stores over local at Christmas: Study – Edmonton

Despite extreme cold, many more Edmontonians left their homes to shop ahead of Christmas in 2022 compared to the year prior, and overwhelmingly chose to visit shopping malls and big box stores compared to shoppers in other Canadian cities.

According to new data from Avison Young, for a two-day period preceding Christmas (Dec 22-23), retail foot traffic increased 161 per cent compared to the same two-day period in 2021.

That was the greatest increase among Canadian markets.

For the first full week before Christmas (Dec 19-23), Edmonton saw a 12 per cent increase in visitor traffic volume at retail stores — also the highest increase in Canada, according to Avison Young.

But it’s where Edmonton shoppers frequented during the last-minute Christmas period that may be most telling.

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For the two shopping days before Christmas, Edmonton malls saw a 184 per cent increase in visitor foot traffic versus 2021, and foot traffic volume at big box stores increased 148 per cent.

Both increases were the largest among all markets in North America, said Avison Young’s Andrea Zviedris.

Local stores saw more foot traffic volume than 2021 but the increase was just 22 per cent, the smallest increase for the ‘local’ category among Canadian markets.

As Marcella Nathan organized the stock in her boutique baby store in Edmonton’s High Street area the first Monday after the holiday season, she lamented a slower-than-expected shopping season.

In talking to fellow store owners in the area, she said the sentiment was the same.

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“I think overall people felt it was slower than in other years. We all wish it would’ve been better and that we would’ve seen more traffic,” said Nathan, who owns Bosom Babies.

Told of the Avison Young visitor volume data, Nathan said it’s reflective of what she saw herself.

“(I’m) a little bit disappointed but at the same time I understand too,” said Nathan.

“Most people probably looking to get the most for their money and look for deals and things like that — everyone’s been struggling this year.”

Marcella Nathan, owner of Bosom Babies in Edmonton’s High Street shopping area, said the holiday shopping season was slower than expected in 2022.

Global News / Dan Grummett

Avison Young does not provide any theories as to why more Edmontonians flocked to larger retailers and away from local businesses, relative to other Canadian markets.

“Maybe we don’t have that much exposure to the local stores over here,” said Karamjot Kaur, who did much of her Christmas shopping at Southgate Mall.

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“We don’t know the prices (at local stores) as well.”

Shopper Sikander Khan said while he did do some shopping at local stores, he mostly visited malls and larger retailers.

“I believe lots of people, they see things online and then they come up with a mindset of where they’re going to go and what they’re going to buy,” said Khan.

Since 2019, Avison Young said it has used anonymized cell phone pings to track visitor volume at various shopping periods, such as Labour Day and Black Friday.

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