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Nov 9, 2017

‘Jury is still out’ on how malls will adapt to ecommerce: SmartCentres REIT CEO

‘Jury is still out’ on how malls will adapt to ecommerce: SmartCentres REIT CEO

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The Chief Executive Officer of one of Canada’s major real estate investment trusts says the industry is still feeling its way through how the explosive growth of online retailing will impact shopping malls.

In an interview on BNN, SmartCentres REIT (SRU_u.TO) CEO Huw Thomas said retailers will likely convert some stores into warehousing space as Canadians increasingly do their shopping online.

“I think everybody is trying to figure out what’s the optimum role for a store in their integrated retail framework,” he said. “Some stores will be more fulfillment centres as opposed to just purely delivering goods to consumers [in-store], so I think the jury is still out exactly how things will unfold.”

In spite of the shift, Thomas said he’s confident his firm, which owns and manages 34 million square feet of retail space and counts Wal-Mart as its main anchor tenant, will be able to adapt.

“We’re comfortable, even if retailers do shrink their needs, that there will be other retailers that will want to be in strong power centres with access to strong traffic.”