Retail Rents Compared – “Vancouver’s Robson $150, Toronto’s Bloor $300, NYC’s Fifth Avenue $2,250”

Despite the departure of anchor tenants such as HMV and Starbucks, Robson Street — the second-most-expensive retail street in Canada after Toronto’s Bloor Street — is far from dead, according to local retail experts.
The street is a vibrant area going through a time of transition and speculation, with landlords wanting to get top dollar, but retailers hesitant to pay high rental rates, said David Ian Gray, retail consultant with the firm DIG360.
“It’s an interesting time. Robson is in this state of flux,” Gray said. “But when you see the J Crews, the CB2s and the Forever 21s coming in, it’s not a dead street.”

However, a new report by Colliers International found the price of rent on Robson fell by 25-per-cent year over year on leases signed during the nine months ending March 31, but the decline is not an indication the street is losing its cachet, according to James Smerdon, Colliers’ director of retail and strategic planning in Vancouver.
Monthly retail rents for new lease deals on Robson averaged $150 per square foot — a bargain price for international retailers, who pay an average of $2,250 per square foot on New York’s Fifth Avenue, which tops Colliers’ global list.
The drop in rent on Robson is a result of a few large stores opening in mid-block locations on the upscale street, rather than on the corner, where rents are typically higher, Smerdon said.

“This isn’t an average rate, it’s a survey of recent and notable transactions,” he said.

According to the Colliers’ survey, new leases were most expensive on Toronto’s Bloor Street, where rents averaged about $310 per square foot, followed by Robson Street, Alberni Street, and Montreal’s Rue de la Montagne, where new lease rates averaged $80 per square foot.

– from ‘Don’t write the obit for Robson St. just yet’, Tracy Sherlock, Vancouver Sun 10 July 2012 [Hat-tip Joe_Blown_Away_By_High_Housing_Costs]

Average or not, it seems Robson is available at $150/sqft.
Vancouver’s Robson $150, Toronto’s Bloor $300, NYC’s Fifth Avenue $2,250.
Perhaps accurately reflecting the relative economic and cultural importance of these centres?
– vreaa

22 responses to “Retail Rents Compared – “Vancouver’s Robson $150, Toronto’s Bloor $300, NYC’s Fifth Avenue $2,250”

  1. Lower rents would reflect lower volume; it’s unlikely NYC is selling clothes at 9x the price.

  2. What happened to “Vanhattan?”

  3. A reflection of cultural importance? Please.

    • Please elaborate upon your “please”.

      • Anonymouse

        The rents are a product of how much income the stores can generate, nothing to do with culture. I’d say population size and wages are the biggest factors. I’m not sure why you brought culture into it.

      • Anonymouse -> I think perhaps you misunderstand: I was referring to ‘culture’ as in ‘the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively’.
        I was asserting that perhaps the retail rents reflect the fact that NYC is of greater ‘economic and cultural importance’ than Toronto, which is of greater ‘economic and cultural importance’ than Vancouver.

  4. Well! Finally… after that disappointing FallFromGrace… (TheEconomist Intelligence Unit’s GlobalLivableCities Index)… YVR is back in the RecordBooks! Quite apart from the LargerForces at play in the decline of DownTownRetail could it be that…. Nah. YVR has BikeLanes, right? Right?

    [CBC] – Vancouver traffic congestion deemed worst in Canada: GPS maker says Vancouver congestion worse than in Toronto, Montreal or Calgary

    “Vancouver is the worst city in Canada for traffic congestion and the second worst in North America, according to a European GPS manufacturer.

    TomTom, an Amsterdam-based manufacturer of automotive GPS systems, has ranked cities by what it calls a “congestion index.”

    The index compares how quickly traffic moves on average to how quickly it moves when there are no other cars on the road.

    When measured using those criteria, Vancouver ranked behind only Los Angeles for relative slowness in North America.”…

    • Did you see the 6PM Global news segment on this where they were interviewing a translink spokesperson about the survey? The guy said don’t read too much into it because the survey doesn’t consider all the factors like the fact that Vancouver has less highway than LA and other cities because Vancouver is a much more liveable city!!! So there, lack of highways causes traffic congestion but it’s ok because it makes our city much more liveable!

      • So don’t read too much into it, because like everything else that is wrong with this city, this one is blatantly self-inflicted?

    • Well, it turns out that Calgary is the “Greatest City in Canada ™”. Our PM says so:

      Gregor Robertson disagrees:

      “The Prime Minister is only half right. Sometimes politicians get cities mixed up, saying ‘Calgary’ instead of ‘Vancouver’ — it happens to the best of us.”

    • “Well! Finally… after that disappointing FallFromGrace… ”

      You mean the one where Vancouver was excluded from the list because they didn’t consider cities below a certain population? How, exactly, is that a fall from grace?

      “Vancouver traffic congestion deemed worst in Canada: GPS maker says Vancouver congestion worse than in Toronto, Montreal or Calgary ”

      Try reading the other articles about the subject, where they suggest that there’s likely to be a bias in these results. After all, people who aren’t stuck in traffic are unlikely to use their GPS to try and route themselves out of it. Perhaps Vancouverites are just better at using the available technology?

      But hey, it’s fun to bash Vancouver, right?

      • These pretzels are making me thirsty

        So what’s your point? The same old BPOE argument !!
        You like someone desperately trying to put a band-aid over a gaping wound

  5. Lots of empty storefronts on Broadway nowadays … surely a sign of the times.

  6. Robson’ retails sell to middle class, nothing close to high fashions. Middle class are broke, so goes the retail number catering to them

    Holt Renfrew on the other hand is doing great.

    • “Holt Renfrew on the other hand is doing great.”

      And rumours of Nordstrom taking over from Sears (who got paid to leave the Pacific Center).

      Robson Street is simply a place where larger chains, like Gap, Aldo, Zara, Mexx, etc, dump their “flagship” stores. For people who actually have taste there are dozens of better places to shop for clothes

  7. Retailers pay for traffic and demographics of the potential shoppers in the area. Anyone who has spent any significant time in midtown Manhattan will attest how it’s a completely different tier both in sheer quantity of population and level of affluence. Manhattan alone is estimated to have 3 million people that live in it, but a daytime population of 8 million + with all the commuters that come in to work. These represent some of the most affluent and highly paid people from around the world. Translating this to insights on Vancouver housing is interesting — things like a) support to the idea that locals have been bidding up locals on the buy now or never in the BPOE argument, and b) residential RE prices have a long way to fall if there is even a loose correlation between commercial rates in an area and RE prices.


  8. CanAmerican:
    Vancouver has the feel of Cancun Mexico. Just look at the price tag for fine dinning at the resorts.
    Vancouver is Cancun, where Canadians are Mexicans and Chinese are Canadians.

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