Shopping centres across Canada were reinventing themselves prior to the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic more than a year ago.

But the health crisis, which turned into an economic crisis as well, has accelerated the pace of change for the malls of the future.

Corrado Russo, Senior Managing Director and Head of Public Real Estate Investments at Hazelview Investments, said malls were already having a pretty tough time pre-COVID.

“They were losing market share in terms of sales to online shopping and e-commerce. So this was a trend that was already going on and they were sort of suffering from death of a thousand cuts and what COVID did, and the pandemic, is accelerated all of that. The estimate is they probably lost about five to seven years of market share in about 12 months because of the pandemic because everybody was forced to buy online and many of those that were not typical online shoppers became online shoppers and because of the convenience may not go back,” he said.

“We do think the mall is going to be in a tough spot. But it doesn’t mean they all have to disappear. Those that do a good job reinventing themselves will survive and can thrive especially if they see less competition.”