Whether you agreed or disagreed with our Toronto versus Montreal article, it is an undeniable fact that an increasing number of international and Canadian retailers are flocking to Hogtown. Blame it on Quebec’s language laws making business in the province as easy and pleasant as a PAP smear, Toronto’s booming economy and population, or Montreal’s relative stagnation, but the Big Smoke may want to consider rebranding itself as “The Big Shop.”
With American luxury retailers Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom, along with Quebec department store Simon’s, arriving in the next year or two, Toronto staples like Hudson’s Bay Company, Holt Renfrew, Harry Rosen, and Yorkdale shopping centre have been upping their game through expansions, new locations, and massive renovations. Furthermore, while Queen Street West has played host to the boutique boom of the last five years, it appears that the flow may be shifting north to Yorkville again, with more youthful hotspots Zane and Untitled & Co. moving into the area. Nearby, Bloor West’s Mink Mile got a luxurious update in 2014 with the additions of J. Crew, Brooks Brothers, and Holt Renfrew Men. Looking to the future, Retail Insider notes that Hazelton Lanes on Avenue Road is undergoing a $100 million facelift and will be renamed ‘Yorkville Village.’
It was not all honey and roses for the Canadian retail industry this year though, with former power-players Mexx and Jacob both shuttering most of their locations. While still afloat, American chains Urban Outfitters, Abercrombie & Fitch, Crocs, and Canada’s Lululemon and Le Chateau are also all facing serious existential and financial crises heading into 2015. Given the Hunger Games-style competition presented by online retailers coupled with a continued recession mentality, it is truly anybody’s guess who will still be standing come next Christmas. Overall, it looks like retail was up 4.8% in 2014 over the year before and things are on a similar track for 2015.
As the year winds down and we head into the final Boxing Week sprint, we at Vv Magazine thought it would be nice to do a little retrospective on the best new stores that opened in Toronto in 2014.
What are some of your favourite new Toronto stores of 2014? Let Vv Magazine know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.