Cross-border battle for shoppers heats up - The Buffalo News
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Cross-border battle for shoppers heats up

The battle of the outlet malls on opposite sides of the border is heating up.

Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls has released a partial list of stores that will be new to the American mall once its $71 million expansion is completed in the fall.

They include:

American Eagle, Aerie, Asics, Clarks, Crocs, Destination Maternity, Disney, Forever 21, Gold Toe, Helly Hansen, IT’SUGAR, Janie & Jack, Kenneth Cole, Merrell, NY & Co, Perfumania, Perry Ellis, Spencer’s Gifts, Steve Madden, Swarovski, Talbot’s, The Body Shop, The Limited and White House Black Market.

Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls will add 50 retailers once the expansion is complete, 22 of which have not yet been announced. About 77 percent of the expanded space has been leased.

Randy Brant, executive vice president of real estate at Macerich, said the expansion and new retail mix will “solidify the dominance” of the American outlet mall in New York State and the Toronto region.

The mall, which was bought by California-based Macerich from AWE Talisman in 2011 for $200 million, is adding 175,000 square feet as part of a major interior and exterior renovation.

At the same time, Canada’s competing open-air outlet mall will open in Niagara-on-the-Lake on May 15.

Of the stores that have been announced so far by each mall, 20 of the new local stores will not be available at Canada’s mall, the Outlet Collection at Niagara.

But the Canadian mall will have dozens of outlet stores not yet offered at the U.S. mall, including North Face, Lacoste and UGG outlets.

The 520,000-square-foot Canadian mall is an attempt to keep more Canadian shoppers and tourists in Canada, and to capture some of the nearly $1 billion that Canadians cross the border to spend in Western New York each year.

Canadians have long cited better selection as well as lower prices and taxes in the United States as the reason they prefer to shop here.

David A. Baffa, senior vice president of retail development at Ivanhoe Cambridge, which is building the Canadian mall, said while it can’t do anything about Canada’s higher taxes, its mall will more than fulfill the needs and wants of Canadians for lower prices, increased selections and more designer brands.

“We believe this is going to be a major attraction for Canadians and Americans alike,” Baffa said. “This is going to be quite a destination.”

He also said he believes the long wait times at the border could be enough of a deterrent to keep Canadians shopping at home.

Also working in the Canadian mall’s favor is the sinking value of the Canadian dollar. The loonie is worth about 92 cents of an American dollar.

Canadians might start paying attention if the loonie drops below 90 cents, and might re-examine cross-border trips if it falls below 85 cents, Walter Sendzik, chief executive officer of Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce in Ontario, has said.


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