By Craig Patterson
‘Sex and the City’ actress Sarah Jessica Parker will open her first standalone retail location in Canada this spring at West Edmonton Mall, featuring her popular SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker footwear line. It will be one of the first dedicated stores for the brand and is considered to be a major coup for North America’s largest shopping centre.
The 2,440 square foot West Edmonton Mall SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker store will replace a Town Shoes location on the mall’s ground floor adjacent to the mall entrance to busy ‘Bourbon Street’ (a food-and-beverage area with a New Orleans theme). Town Shoes shuttered all of its 38 stores earlier this year after parent company DSW announced that it was closing the chain.
Sarah Jessica Parker founded the SJP by Jessica Parker footwear line in February of 2014 with a launch at Nordstrom. The brand has since gained wholesale distribution at retailers globally while also opening six stores globally. Most styles feature high-heels and are priced in the $400-$700 range per pair.
West Edmonton Mall will be one of only a handful of standalone locations for the SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker brand. In North America, other locations include two stores in New York City — one permanent store in the Seaport District, and another a pop-up at 6 W. 52nd Street near Saks Fifth Avenue and the Rockefeller Center. Other US stores include a unit at the Bellagio Hotel retail complex in Las Vegas, as well as a storefront at the MGM National Harbor Hotel and Casino in suburban Washington DC. SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker also operates two stores in the Middle East — one at the Dubai Mall in Dubai, with the second being in The Galleria in Abu Dhabi.
While Edmonton as a city isn’t particularly known for being fashion-forward, West Edmonton Mall attracts a wide range of consumers that includes a mix of fashion-seeking locals and out-of-town visitors. An estimated 27-million people visit West Edmonton Mall annually, according to Retail Council of Canada’s most-recent Canadian Shopping Centre Study.
West Edmonton Mall features upscale retailers such as Tiffany & Co., Kate Spade and Coach, and local jeweller Gemoro recently unveiled an impressive store that includes a dedicated Rolex boutique. Louis Vuitton will open a 4,600 square foot store in the mall on June 8 of this year, and retailers Canada Goose, Mackage and Matt & Nat are said to be on the way with negotiations ongoing for several other brands, some in the luxury category.
Canada’s footwear market is seeing more competition than ever, both at the high-end as well as in value-priced categories. Brands such as Christian Louboutin continue to expand their presence in Canada in partnership with multi-brand players such as Holt Renfrew. At the high-end, Holt Renfrew has been expanding its designer footwear offerings to compete with Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue — Nordstrom entered Canada in 2014 and now operates six stores in four cities, and Saks Fifth Avenue now operates three stores in Toronto and Calgary.
At the value-priced end of the spectrum, TJX-owned Winners and Marshalls continue to expand their base of stores in Canada and since 2016, Saks OFF 5TH has opened 18 stores in Canada. Nordstrom Rack entered Canada last year when it opened its first stores and the retailer says that it could open as many as 15 stores here when its off-price expansion is complete.
The competition has been too much for some footwear retailers, some of which have shut their operations. DSW Inc., which recently rebranded as Designer Brands Inc., shuttered its Town Shoes nameplate earlier this year as mentioned above. US chain Payless ShoeSource has shut its more than 250 Canadian stores as it winds down its North American operations after declaring bankruptcy. Chains such as Browns Shoes and Aldo continue to open new and replacement store locations as well.
Given the relatively small number of SJP stores in existence, it’s unclear if the brand will open any more storefronts in Canada. We’ll follow up on this story when the West Edmonton Mall store opens its doors.
Now located in Toronto, Craig is a retail analyst and consultant at the Retail Council of Canada. He's also the Director of Applied Research at the University of Alberta School of Retailing in Edmonton. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for the past 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees. He is also President & CEO of Vancouver-based Retail Insider Media Ltd. Email Craig: email@example.com