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by Chris Atchison

When Victoria’s Secret recently turned West Edmonton Mall into a bra-buying madhouse for its Canadian launch in August, most in the Great White North shrugged at the introduction of yet another major U.S. brand into their retail marketplace.

Real estate industry watchers, however, saw the launch as part of an ongoing trend – a greater recovery in the domestic retail real estate market powered largely by big-name foreign brands migrating to Canada in search of prime mall and main-street spaces – and shoppers ready to buy.

“There are two reasons why American and foreign retailers are looking to Canada: relative value combined with the fact there is a stronger and more positive economic outlook,” says Stan Krawitz, president of Toronto-based real estate brokerage Real Facilities Inc.

Mr. Krawitz explains that for foreign retailers, a diverse array of retail real estate opportunities available, a relatively robust economy in comparison to that of the U.S. and much of Europe, as well as bargain-priced rents are a major draw for big brands that are seeking everything from urban street front to suburban big-box configurations.

Just how cheap is our real estate? According to a recent report by Colliers International, Canada’s two priciest high streets by cost per square foot – Ste-Catherine in Montreal and Bloor in Toronto – rank 32nd and 33rd in the world, respectively, compared to other premium retail corridors around the world.

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