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Advising retail tenants throughout the pandemic

Advising retail tenants image_hero

Three ways Colliers Real Estate Management Services helped retail tenants adapt their operations

As COVID-19 forced retailers to reexamine every element of their strategic plan and every aspect of their operations, Colliers Real Estate Management Services was ready to help them adapt. From innovative parking lot pick-up programs to creative contests to promote engagement, our property management teams have demonstrated an unflappable commitment to supporting retailers’ success. 

Parking lot pick-up programs

At Lansdowne Centre in Richmond, B.C., many anchor tenants established parking lot pick-up programs in response to pandemic restrictions, but the cost of renting stalls was too prohibitive for many commercial retail unit (CRU) tenants. “At the end of the day, our tenants’ success is our success,” explains Bronwyn Bailey, Marketing Manager at Lansdowne Centre. And so, Bronwyn and her team developed a communal parking lot pick-up program for CRU tenants, whereby she was responsible for arranging the space, signage, and advertising, and tenants were responsible for all sales processes and customer interaction. To date, 35% of tenants have taken advantage of the program. Convenience in retail, as evidenced through the parking lot pick-up program, has accelerated during the pandemic, and will undoubtedly be a key factor in consumer decision-making going forward. 

Northwest of Richmond, in Salmon Arm, Lori Cymbaluk, Property Manager at Piccadilly Mall, went out of her way to support the shift to online ordering at the independent bookstore in the mall. The unit does not have exterior access and the owner has had difficulty retaining employees during the pandemic. Together, Lori and the owner recognized that customers’ pre-paid orders could be picked-up at her property management office, which has exterior access and where she was on site each day. Remarkably, monthly sales from July 2020 to present are the highest they’ve been since 1997. The fact that customers were able to pick-up their orders at Lori’s office faster than Amazon, was critical in achieving this tremendous growth in sales.

Consumer contests 

“How are we going to keep shoppers’ minds on Cherry Lane?” It’s a question Andrea Davison kept asking herself as the pandemic upended shoppers’ traditional routines. As the marketing manager for Cherry Lane Shopping Centre in Penticton, B.C., Andrea responded with an online contest, “Win your shopping list!” The idea was that individuals write down 10 items they wanted to purchase at Cherry Lane – from where and why – for a chance to win a $1,000 shopping spree. There were over 600 entries – surpassing expectations – and the responses provided great insight into the needs and wants of the mall’s customers. The responses also provided some humour. “A lot of people said they were getting annoyed with their spouse,” Andrea said laughing, “and were looking for products to keep them entertained.” “And one woman said she needed to buy a new laptop because her 5-year-old son had been told that laptops can bounce and in turn, threw hers off the balcony.” 

A noteworthy takeaway from the contest was the fact that every store at Cherry Lane was mentioned among the entries and the information provided will inform future marketing strategies. Given its success, Andrea is considering a similar contest around the holiday season. 

Enhancing trust between property managers, tenants, and customers 

The Lansdowne Centre Loyalty Program launched in January 2020. While the goals were quickly modified to reflect the new environment, the mission behind the program remained the same: build brand loyalty. For Bronwyn, building brand loyalty depends on how well an entity can connect with their customers; knowing what motivates them and the value the entity brings them at any given time. Despite what appeared to be an insurmountable challenge, the Lansdowne Centre Loyalty Program grew from 300 members in February 2020 to 8,000 in June 2021. Engagement was sustained due to how the team at Lansdowne communicated with members, such as reassuring consumers that the mall was operating safely, explaining how the mall could meet their needs remotely, and providing a sense of community amidst an isolating time. 

From a tenants’ perspective, the pandemic sparked numerous questions and, for a while, few answers. The team at Cherry Lane stepped up to guide tenants on what the addition and removal of restrictions meant for them. Andrea established a taskforce and gathered all the relevant information daily, so it was easy for tenants to adjust their operations as seamlessly as possible. While many tenants had information sent from their head office, Andrea and her team worked one-on-one with the store managers to interpret, implement, and continually adapt to new policies. This served to build trust between property management and tenants, which will continue in the months and years ahead.

For more information on how Colliers Real Estate Management Services continues to advise retail tenants throughout the pandemic, please contact Alanna Cantkier, National Director, Retail Leasing at 

For More Information, Please Contact:

Alanna Cantkier

Vice President, REMS National Leasing

Toronto Downtown

In Alanna's current role, as National Director, Retail Leasing, for Canada, under the Real Estate Management Services Group (REMS), she is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the retail leasing program and strategy for REMS' clients.  Alanna's provides tactical leadership to the retail portfolio.

Alanna brings nearly 25 years of focused retail leasing experience to Colliers International.  She provides long-term strategic planning to retail leasing and retail shopping centre repositioning.  She provides knowledgeable direction for new development projects including working with acquisition, finance and construction project teams  and developing relationships with retailers and brokers alike.  Alanna also provides for business growth and expansion approaches to retailers on a multi-market level and assists in their understanding of an ever changing retail landscape.

Her strategy identifies current market and property conditions in order to value add through repositioning, re-leasing, re-development, management and marketing. 

Alanna is well experienced in a variety of retail assets; lifestyle, community neighbourhood plazas, mixed use (retail/residential, retail/office) and power centers

Her previous experience also includes acting as Property Manager of more than 2 million square feet of a mixed asset portfolio.


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