Resurgent customer traffic at mall points to retail rebound

Limited closures at Metrotown after initial pandemic chill

Left: Metrotown in late March. Right: Metrotown in early November | Jeremy Hainsworth, Rob Kruyt photos

As the lockdown kicked into gear in late March, Burnaby’s Metrotown mall was a ghost town. Its usually packed wings were empty but for the occasional straggler and security personnel, stores closed except for essentials such as Great Canadian Superstore and Walmart.

Now, the Ivanhoé Cambridge-operated shopping centre buzzes with activity again, but the pandemic has inflicted some casualties at the sprawling Kingsway mall. With some 400 retail outlets and other business locations available, just over a dozen are shuttered. Some spaces advertise new retailers coming; others, such as bathing suit company Swimco, say they’re out of business after 45 years. More food outlets outside the food fair have closed than those inside. But of the mall’s two A&W restaurants, one remains open near the bus loop while the one in the food fair remains closed, with a sign alerting customers to a positive COVID-19 test and staff quarantine.

Clothing giant Zara had announced closure of Canadian bricks-and-mortar operations in June, and with it went the Metrotown location. Now, however, the papered-up windows are replaced with announcements of a reopening.