Greater Victoria's retail landscape is evolving rapidly now that the Zellers store has closed at Tillicum Centre and the Zellers at Hillside Centre is liquidating merchandise.
American retail powerhouse Target is moving into the former Zellers stores as it rolls out plans to open 125 stores in Canada next year and more in 2014.
"As we get closer to Target actually coming here, you're finally starting to see the ramifications of it," Derek Dley, a consumer products analyst with Canaccord Genuity, said from Vancouver. "We are seeing the Zellers close down and start to be converted into the Targets. Walmart is also making a bigger push into Canada, looking for more sites."
Dollar Tree in the U.S. bought Dollar Giant recently, planning to increase its 115 stores in Canada to 1,000 over time, Dley said.
"Canada is an attractive market here for a lot of the big American retailers," he said, adding that we will see U.S. retailers moving into existing sites.
Sears is closing at Pacific Centre in Vancouver and there's speculation that Seattle-based Nordstrom will take that location, Dley said.
U.S.-based Marshall's has announced it is moving into Hillside Centre.
At the same time, the Bay has moved up-market in its offerings to position itself just below the highend Canadian fashion retailer Holt Renfrew, Dley said. Sears is expected to face the biggest challenge from Target because both serve a mid-range market.
Greater Victoria is seeing millions of dollars in economic activity as shopping centres try to keep themselves fresh with competition heating up.
Three of those shopping centres are in Saanich - Tillicum, Broadmead and the new Uptown mixed use project, which has a $300-million price tag.
"You can't stay the same in retail," said Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard. He encourages property owners and managers to redevelop. "Our community plan wants them to be vigorous, vital business centres."
Target has announced it will spend $11 million developing the 150,000square-foot, two-level former Zellers store at Tillicum, which is expected to open in spring 2013.
Workers were busy at Hillside Centre on Wednesday, where a $50-million redevelopment will add 80,000 square feet and upgrade the shopping mall. Target is aiming to demolish the one-storey Zellers store at Hillside to build a two-storey structure of 144,390 square feet in its place. That Target is scheduled to open in 2014.
Meanwhile, the Broadmead Village shopping centre has won approval from Saanich to proceed with its planned $6.5-million upgrade.
The Uptown development, on the north end of Douglas Street, is approaching the end of its second phase, expected to open in late September, with new retailers to be announced.