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Downtown Vancouver vacancy up as visits remain below pre-pandemic level: report



Higher retail and office vacancy rates helped keep foot traffic below pre-pandemic levels in much of downtown Vancouver last year, according to the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA).

It released its State of Downtown 2023 report this morning to give a snapshot on the state of business activity in the approximately 90 blocks of real estate that it oversees.

The DVBIA tracks visitor volume on its four retail corridors: Alberni Street’s luxury-retail corridor; the Granville Entertainment District, Robson Street and West Hastings Street.

“Since November 2021, 22 retail stores have opened and 33 have closed leading to a net loss of eleven,” the DVBIA’s report reads. “Most notably, Nordstrom (Inc. [NYSE:JWN]) announced on March 2 that the company will close all Canadian locations due to poor sales across Canada.”


That stores’s closure is set to leave 230,000 square feet of space vacant at the heart of the downtown core.

Some good news is that Cadillac Fairview’s senior vice-president for Canadian retail, Tom Knoepfel, told BIV that potential tenants have contacted him.

“We’ve had significant interest from multiple parties considering leasing all of the space, and a portion of the space,” he said.

“We’re confident that we’ll be able to put together a retail offering that the general public will once again be excited about.”

Knoepfel said he expects the space to remain a retail hub, although some non-retailers have contacted him.

He is considering redeveloping the space to accommodate “three to five” retailers, he said.

Getting new tenants in the space will be key to driving a recovery in downtown foot traffic.

The pandemic led to a 71-per-cent drop in monthly visits to the downtown, according to the DVBIA’s report.

In 2022, visits to downtown recovered significantly compared with the previous two years, but they remain down about 14.5 per cent compared with 2019, the DVBIA said.

In 2021, foot traffic downtown was down 36.2 per cent compared with 2019, according to the DVBIA.

Retail and office vacancy likely contributed to less foot traffic in the area.

As of February 2023, downtown storefront vacancy was 13 per cent – up from 12.8 per cent one year earlier, according to the DVBIA.

Other data crunchers are seeing a similar slow recovery in office occupancy.

Avison Young on Monday reported that downtown Vancouver’s office vacancy in the first quarter of 2023 rose above 10 per cent for the first time since 2004 – to 10.8 per cent.

This comes on the heels of CBRE data for the fourth quarter of 2022, in which it said total vacant sublease-office space downtown reached 722,000 square feet – the highest number recorded in 30 years due to an uptick in large and full-floor spaces given back by major tenants downtown.

SAP SE (NYSE:SAP), Kabam and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:MSFT) are some of the companies subleasing space.

Job cuts at Inc. (Nasdaq:AMZN) have led to speculation that it may not fully occupy the 1,050,000 square feet that it is pre-leasing at the soon to be complete two-tower Post building in the city block bounded by West Georgia, Hamilton, Dunsmuir and Homer streets.

The DVBIA noted that one bright spot was that food and beverage businesses have recovered better than other downtown storefront businesses.

Restaurants were the first businesses to be required to limit operations, when indoor dining was banned in mid-March 2020.

“As pandemic restrictions ended, they were also the first businesses to return,” the DVBIA’s report notes. “Since November 2021, 34 food and beverage establishments have opened downtown and 22 have closed, leading to a net gain of 12 businesses. Quick-service dining restaurants, defined as restaurants where customers order at a counter, saw the most openings.”

The DVBIA also noted in its report that downtown Vancouver hotel occupancy increased in 2022 to be 72 per cent of 2019’s pre-pandemic level. That compares with those hotels being at only 40 per cent of 2019’s level in 2021.


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Lululemon shares surge as consumers snap up pricier athletic wear



By Savyata Mishra

(Reuters) – Shares of Lululemon Athletica Inc soared 15% in early trade on Friday, after the premium apparel retailer defied investor worries with a full-year outlook lift amid little pullback from consumers and a sharp rebound in China sales.

The rosy outlook comes in contrast to the general trend of U.S. retailers ranging from Macy’s to Dollar General warning of weak discretionary spending by American consumers.

At least 11 brokerages raised price targets on the company, with Piper Sandler hiking by the highest margin to $445, above the median of $424.


“We think (Lululemon) is one of the select brands continuing to drive outsized demand in this more challenging macro environment with innovation and newness,” said Abbie Zvejnieks, analyst at Piper Sandler.

Lululemon’s first-quarter results also beat estimates as the company saw traffic across both its stores and online go up about 30%.

“Lululemon’s stores continue to be a key catalyst for customer retention and acquisition,” analysts at TD Cowen wrote in a note.

The company also reported a 79% rise in sales in China, bolstered by the rollback of COVID restrictions. Lululemon’s exposure to China could be “a solid source of sales and margin upside for the rest of the year,” analysts at Barclays wrote in a note.

A loyal customer base has also given the company a leg up, helping it sell more of its popular products, such as the Align high-rise yoga pants which retails between $98 and $118, at full price, even amid an uncertain economy.

“Lululemon is just very popular right now and seems to be immune from the slowing trend,” David Swartz, an analyst at Morningstar Research said.

The company’s strong results also lifted shares of other athletic wear makers including Nike Inc and Athleta owner Gap Inc by 4% and 3%, respectively. Shares of European sportswear companies Adidas and Puma were also up.

(Reporting by Savyata Mishra and Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)



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OPEC Discussing 1 Million Bpd Output Cut




Oil prices were trading up on Friday afternoon as shorters got a little nervous heading into the OPEC+ weekend, with new rumors circulating about the group’s discussions about another 1 million bpd in production cuts.

The OPEC+ group is scheduled for three separate meetings beginning this weekend and concluding on June 4. While the general sentiment has been that the group will keep the status quo as far as production targets are concerned. But Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister has made boistrous threats against oil’s speculators in the runup to the meeting, saying that shorters will be “ouching”.


On Thursday, Reuters suggested that the OPEC+ group would be unlikely to deepen its production targets at the meeting this weekend. But late on Friday, Reuters suggested that OPEC+ was indeed discussing an additional output cut of around 1 million barrels “among possible options” for the meeting on June 4.

Crude oil prices were already trading up ahead of the meeting, but increased even more in the afternoon hours, bringing Brent crude to $76.32 at 4:20 p.m., a $2.06 per barrel increase on the day. WTI was trading at $71.90 per barrel at that time.

The OPEC meeting will begin at 1 pm Vienna time tomorrow, with OPEC+ meeting on Sunday.

The latest price hike could prompt OPEC+ to keep production targets the same. But Saudi Arabia appears to still be in control of OPEC+, and he could decide to make good on his threats to punish short sellers for their speculative trades that fly in the face of market fundamentals.

“I keep advising them (referencing oil speculators) that they will be ouching, they did ouch in April, I don’t have to show my cards. I am not a poker player…but I would just tell them watch out,” Saudi’s energy minister said late last month in the runup to the meeting.

By Julianne Geiger for

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Air Canada should face more consequences after two disruptions in a week, consumer advocate says



An airline consumer advocate says Air Canada should face tougher consequences for stranding passengers after two disruptions in a week.

Gábor Lukács, president of Air Passenger Rights, said Canadian airlines such as Air Canada currently don’t face enough consequences from the government each time they delay or cancel a flight.

“It feels like the airlines just have a free pass,” Lukasc told in an interview Friday.

Air Canada’s operations were jolted not once but twice in a span of seven days, impacting over 670 flights combined. On May 25, 241 Air Canada flights were delayed, and 19 were cancelled. This past Thursday, 362 flights were delayed and 48 cancelled, according to tracking service


Air Canada said the recently implemented system used to communicate with aircraft and monitor the performance of its operations was having technical problems.

In a statement to yesterday, the airline confirmed that both incidents occurred in the same system but were unrelated.

Currently, a traveller is entitled to between $125 and $1,000 in compensation for delays up to three hours or more, unless the disruption is a result of events beyond the airline’s control.

However, Lukács said he believes Air Canada is gatekeeping what really happened so they don’t have to pay passengers compensation.

“I’m confident that this is within the airline’s control,” Lukasc said.

The federal government has plans to strengthen the Air Passenger Protection Regulations. The proposed policy amendments would increase the maximum penalty for airline violations to $250,000, and hold airlines to regulatory costs of complaints.

Air Canada said no one was available for an interview on Friday.

By Friday afternoon, the Montreal-based airline told through an email statement the communicator system was stabilized and “it is functioning normally.”

However, “due to the effects of Thursday’s IT issues on our schedule, some flights may be delayed this morning as we reposition aircraft and crew,” Air Canada said.

There were 164 Air Canada flights, or 30 per cent of the airline’s scheduled load, had been delayed Friday as of 6:00 p.m. EDT, along with 36 cancellations, as seen on FlightAware.

Additionally, Air Canada Rouge had 62 flights delayed and 25 cancellations.

“That’s absurd, especially for a massive huge airline like Air Canada,” said Lukács.

A spokesperson for Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said the ministry has been in touch with Air Canada since the situation began, but did not confirm whether the airline could face any consequences, including fines.

“We expect all air carriers, including Air Canada, to uphold their obligations to keep passengers safe and protect their rights, and ensure all delays and cancellations are mitigated as soon as possible,” Alghabra’s office said in an email statement sent to on Friday.



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