Outlets a step-wise approach

nordstrom racksaks off 5th

Recently, both Nordstrom Rack and Saks Off 5th announced store openings in Edmonton. Nordstrom Rack will open next fall at South Edmonton Common, while Saks Off 5th will open two stores – one at South Edmonton Common this fall, and one in north Edmonton next year.

Some are disappointed that the full-line ‘big sisters’ are not (yet) planned for Edmonton – but I believe this is a very strategic approach.

Edmonton is a metro area of more than one million people. As Canada’s most northern provincial capital, Edmonton is a shopping destination for northern residents in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories. This catchment area makes Edmonton a great location for retailers.

But the kinds of provisions people buy here tend to be more practical than trendy. Costco, for example, operates a half-dozen stores in the Edmonton area alone. We’re a hardy people; frugal and no-nonsense, in many ways.  People here like big savings.

This is why I believe that opening with off-price stores will pay off for Saks and Nordstrom – and maybe one day we’ll see full-line stores here, too.

These off-price stores will help introduce people to a broader range of designer brands than are currently available in this market. Doing this at an affordable price point will be very attractive to people here, and can potentially set the stage for more expensive tastes in future, should full-line stores arrive.

We have a lot of catching up to do in order to embrace top designer labels. Until that happens, people here will scour the off-price stores and continue to do their designer shopping online or in the US.

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