Experts say shopping culture has shifted, with trends pointing toward growth in experiential retail. People want entertainment options coupled with shopping, and they want to go to places that look and feel nice.
Heather Thomson, executive director of the Centre for Cities and Communities at the University of Alberta, says statistics actually show that most Millennials and almost all of Gen Z prefer to do shopping in person, indicating a coming shift back to physical shopping, albeit from customers who don’t want to simply walk through giant, barren parking lots to see endless aisles of products on shelves.
“The psychology around that is probably, ‘We’re so digitally connected, we’re almost digital native.’” Thomson says. “This ability to get out and step away from the digital world is so important right now.”
As frustrating as the eyesores may be, and as complicated as the solutions are, the overall picture may not be as bleak as it seems.
As Salvador notes, with the right approach, vacant storefronts also present opportunities.
“It’s an opportunity for more affordable businesses to be able to step into that space, it creates opportunities for local entrepreneurs,” she says. “Right now, if you walk up and down the ave, just take note of some of the diversity of businesses and cultures represented. So there is something special happening here, and there’s a lot of local gems that have already put down roots.”
Savvy AF. Blunt AF. Edmonton AF.