Do major U.S. retail companies view Edmonton as Calgary’s poor cousin?
One retail expert believes so after upscale retailer Nordstrom Inc. announced plans Friday to open a Nordstrom Rack, the company’s off-price division, at South Edmonton Common.
It comes a little more than a week after luxury chain Saks Fifth Avenue revealed it was opening a Saks Off 5th in the city, launching Sept. 1 also at South Edmonton Common. Saks Off 5th is the company’s off-price satellite store.
While both Saks and Nordstrom are also planning off-price stores for Calgary, the southern Alberta city saw Canada’s first full-line Nordstrom in 2014. Saks announced in May that it will open a full-line store in Calgary.
There is no word on a high-end Saks store for Edmonton and Nordstrom spokeswoman Jessica Canfield confirmed Friday there are no plans at this time to open a full-line Nordstrom in Edmonton.
“Obviously, they see Edmonton as a discount centre,” said Paul McElhone, dean of management at Concordia University of Edmonton.
“I am disappointed not to see a Nordstrom’s or a Sak’s in Edmonton. In doing their research, they determined that Calgary is the best centre for these upper-end stores. I think there’s an opportunity in Edmonton as well.
“Edmonton is much more stable than Calgary and we can see that now with current economic trends.”
Despite Edmonton’s lunch-bucket image, it has both the money and demand for higher-end shopping, McElhone said. It has multi-generational old-money wealth that tends to be quieter than Calgary’s, he said.
“The distribution of wealth in the two cities is almost exactly the same. … It’s definitely a missed opportunity. I think Edmonton has way more to offer in consumer density at the luxury end.”
A 35,000-square-foot Nordstrom Rack is scheduled to open in fall 2018, adjacent to the intersection of the Queen Elizabeth 2 Highway and Anthony Henday Drive.