The 2020 global pandemic has presented us all with a host of challenges to overcome, tribulations that have resulted primarily from the vast amount of change that has been imposed on communities all over the world. In the case of mall landlords, the virus’ quick and indiscriminate spread has altered the conventional mall environment, creating a dilemma for them as physical distancing protocols force a shift in consumer shopping behaviour and preferences highlighted by a hesitancy in Canadians to gather in crowded indoor spaces. For this reason, and others, outdoor retail shopping concepts like Heartland Town Centre in Mississauga, Ontario, which provide quick and easy access to an array of street-front stores that offer curbside pickup options, are providing consumers with a safer and more convenient alternative to the traditional mall shopping experience.
“The impacts of COVID-19 have obviously been severe and have been felt by everybody across nearly every sector,” says Paola Caldaroni, Marketing and Leasing Manager at Orlando Corporation – Canada’s largest privately-owned industrial real estate developer and Heartland Town Centre landlord. “It’s really shaken everything up and has forced us all to revaluate how we do things. It’s caused disruptions to the customer shopping experience, particularly to the conventional experience that we’ve all become so used to at indoor mall locations. Because our Heartland Town Centre property is in such a great location and offers such a wide range of retail options, from fashion and home goods to specialty food and grocery, combined with the fact that it’s an outdoor experience with each of our tenants operating exterior street-facing storefronts, it’s performed quite well during the pandemic period.”
Everything You Need Is At Heartland Town Centre
One of Canada’s largest and most successful power centres, Heartland Town Centre is conveniently located off Highway 401 at the corner of Mavis Road and Britannia Road in Mississauga. Sprawling 210 acres across all four corners of the busy metropolitan intersection, it offers a mix of nearly 200 full-priced and outlet stores covering over 2 million square feet of retail space. Some of the brands available at the Centre include Adidas, Nordstrom Rack, Sephora, Seafood City, Best Buy, Costco, Canadian Tire, Banana Republic, DSW, H&M, Homesense, JYSK, Harry Rosen Outlet, Loblaws, Marshalls, PetSmart, The Brick, The Keg, Krispy Kreme, Tommy Hilfiger, Wal-Mart, Winners and, of course, many more. It’s a mix of offerings and brands that Caldaroni suggests is second to no other mall location. And, she points out that by operating within an outdoor concept, the benefits available to all of the tenants on the site are immense.
“With the mix of brands, products and services that Heartland Town Centre offers, everything that today’s consumer needs can be found here,” she asserts. “Whether you’re picking up groceries, dining at your favourite restaurant, or purchasing a birthday gift for a loved one, you can do it all at the Centre. Our mix also draws a range of shopping behaviours, too, from those who know what they want and where they want to get it, to those who are just browsing the storefronts for deals. We find that the type of traffic that the Centre generates presents opportunities for other retailers on the property, providing them with a chance to capture incremental traffic and sales. Because each retail location has an exterior storefront, everything on the property is highly visible and accessible. It’s a concept that allows consumers the freedom to stroll the property and peruse the brands on offer, attracting traffic and lending to the success and financial strength of the retail locations we have on site.”
A Safer Shopping Alternative
In addition to the ease of storefront accessibility, Caldaroni acknowledges the fact that a location like Heartland Town Centre is also able to offer consumers a different shopping option and experience during a time when public health concerns are rampant.
“Most people are currently very concerned about visiting areas where there are a lot of bodies in crowded spaces,” she says. “Heartland Town Centre provides the same great shopping experience as other malls in the country, with the same high calibre of brands and offerings, but in a safer environment. Our visitors don’t have to walk through crowded mall corridors or busy food courts. Access to all of our stores are outside. We’re also leveraging the concept and the parking lot space that we have in order to seamlessly integrate curbside pickup into the Heartland Town Centre offering. We’re strongly encouraging all of our tenants to take advantage of the option. It helps support and satisfy the needs of today’s consumer, while adding an extra layer of safety and convenience to the Centre’s shopping experience.”
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In order to cater to and support the park-and-shop type of shopping experience that the Centre offers, there are no less than 28 electric vehicle charging stations located throughout the property, which are available for visitors to use free of charge. And, with a wayfinding mobile app that features a store directory, an interactive map to help visitors navigate from store to store, the offer of exclusive promotions, as well as additional Heartland Town Centre information, Caldaroni suggests that it’s the perfect place for people to, “arrive, plug-in, explore the shops and grab a bite to eat”.
Amazing Opportunities Available
And, based on the success of the outdoor mall, it seems as though consumers are doing just that, embracing the Heartland Town Centre offering and concept that’s helping to simultaneously address their concerns and meet their needs. Despite the Centre’s growth during the difficult pandemic period, however, not all of the Centre’s tenants managed to survive the grim impacts of COVID-19, resulting in some lucrative vacancies on the property. They are vacancies that Matthew Kaplan, Leasing Manager at Orlando Corporation, describes as a reflection of the harsh reality of the current retail environment. But he explains, too, that they represent potentially extraordinary opportunities for future tenants.
“It’s actually quite incredible that we’ve got these locations available,” he says. “We have a range of high-profile street front retail leasing opportunities, including spaces from 2,000-16,000 square feet in size, that I’m sure will be coveted by any brand looking to get in front of consumers and become involved in the Heartland Town Centre experience. We’re obviously looking to secure permanent agreements with tenants, but we’re also considering unique pop-up retail concepts that might appeal to our visitors. But, more so, we’re excited to find the right retail partners that can help support the amazing mix of brands and offering that the Centre already offers, and to help them take advantage of a great opportunity.”
Kaplan has no doubts that the current vacancies will soon be filled by some of the Centre’s future success stories, recognizing a need for brands to offer a safer, contactless shopping option for consumers as the industry continues to wade through the murk of the pandemic. Looking forward, however, he also suggests that Heartland Town Centre and other offerings like it represent the way of the future when it comes to the retail shopping experience.
“The outdoor concept is growing in popularity. It’s reflective of evolving consumer behaviour and more accurately addresses their needs and the demands that they have today. People are increasingly desiring and expecting an easy, seamless, convenient and exciting way to shop with their favourite brands, making other amazing discoveries along the way. We’re confident that Heartland Town Centre delivers on these expectations, and more, elevating the shopping experience for our visitors while helping to support the success and growth of our retail partners and tenants.”
For more information about the incredible retail leasing opportunities available at Heartland Town Centre, contact Paola Caldaroni, Marketing and Leasing Manager or Matthew Kaplan, Leasing Manager, Orlando Corporation at 905.677.5480, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.