Shopping for success at Edmonton International Airport

West Edmonton Mall Waterpark
West Edmonton Mall Water Park

With at least eight major shopping centres, Edmonton, Canada would seem to have more than enough retail outlets for its 1.16 million inhabitants.

After all, the West Edmonton Mall, the biggest in North America and the tenth-biggest in the world, boasts more than 800 stores and services, not to mention a water park, an underground aquarium, a miniature golf course, a bowling alley, an indoor amusement park and exact replica of Christopher Columbus’ flagship, the Santa Maria!

But the folks at Edmonton International Airport obviously think residents of Alberta’s capital city need more choice.

At least, that’s one way to understand their recent decision to add more than 85 retailers, or 350,000 square feet of shopping space, to the 60 or so restaurants and shops that already speckle the terminal.

The development, which will consist of outlet stores, will be entirely under one roof.


Slated to open in 2016, the project is being helmed by Ivanhoe Cambridge, a Montreal-based property and development company and a subsidiary of Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, that province’s giant pension fund.

But Sandeep Agrawal, a professor of urban planning at the University of Alberta, suggests the mall may fill a retailing niche.

He admits the development may steal business from the West Edmonton Mall. But he notes that as an outlet mall, the project differs from Edmonton’s existing retail plazas.

He also notes that in addition to airport passengers, the mall will likely be targeted at residents of Northern Alberta, a region burgeoning with oil and gas development, particularly in the tar sands.

(Officials from Edmonton International were unavailable for comment).