Robson Street rents drop 15% in past year

Vancouver fashion strip ranks as ninth priciest in the Americas

Japanese retailer Muji is readying to open a store on Robson Street on December 2 | Chung Chow

Rents on Vancouver’s Robson Street have dropped more than 15% in the past year to US$141 per square foot per year, according to the Cushman Wakefield study Main Streets Across The World 2017, which ranks rents for streetfront-retail districts globally.

That rental rate is the ninth priciest in the Americas. In 2016, Robson Street rents were US$166 per square foot per year, the study noted.

Some of the drop in rents could be attributable to currency exchange rates, given that the Canadian dollar has risen more than 6% compared with the same time last year. It was unclear exactly what exchange rate Cushman Wakefield used.

“Rents have generally shown modest falls [across the Americas],” according to the study.

“Canadian retailers are exploring change … seeking out new formats in ‘cool-street’ areas to buffer or replace traditional high-street locations.”

The study did not include Vancouver's Alberni Street but that street would be an example of a "cool street" that has lured retaiilers that historically may have chosen to lease space on Robson Street.

Manhattan’s Upper Fifth Avenue between 49th and 60th streets ranked as the priciest street for retail rents in the world with the average rent being US$3,000 per square foot per year – more than 18 times more expensive than Robson Street. That stretch of Fifth Avenue had the same rent a year ago.

Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive ranked as the second priciest street in the Americas with an average rent of US$875 per square foot per year, up 9.3% from a year earlier, while the third priciest street in the Americas is Union Square in San Francisco, where rents rose 2.1% year over year to US$700 per square foot per year.

Rio de Janeiro’s Garcia D’avilla saw the biggest rent decline among high streets in the Americas, a 44% drop to US$576 per square foot per year.

One bright note for Robson Street is the pending arrival of Japanese household products retailer Muji, which plans to open its largest store outside Asia, at 1125 Robson Street, on December 2.

Its new 14,507-square-foot store is on a footprint that previously had tenants such as The Gap and Below the Belt.

Here is Cushman Wakefield's list of the most expensive streets in the Americas:

Click here to view the full report.