Right now, most cannabis dispensaries and chains situate themselves in more discreet locations like in a strip mall or on the street. By comparison, shopping malls are large gathering spaces for the public, and dispensaries usually cannot be found there. There are some exceptions to this like Aurora Cannabis‘ store in the West Edmonton Mall. But for the most part, you generally won’t find cannabis stores in more mainstream spaces.
So What Can Ontarians Expect?
Mall landlords are now more open to cannabis stores opening in their property. For example, Cadillac Fairview, one of Ontario‘s biggest commercial landlords, will allow both Tokyo Smoke and Fika to open new locations in its malls. What exactly spurred this decision? For one, the cannabis sector has seen continued growth ever since legalization. Even during the pandemic, the industry saw upward growth despite the economic downturn across Canada. Furthermore, stigmas around cannabis are slowly changing, and cannabis stores opening in major public spaces reflect these changes.
With New Opportunities Come New Challenges
Moving into bigger public spaces is not necessarily an easy process. Generally speaking, leases for large malls cost more than it does elsewhere. As major brands expand their operations, they will need to ensure that they can keep up with costs. Also, these stores will need to consider the logistics of attracting mall customers. As centralized public spaces, malls attract all sorts of visitors. Some might come with the sole purpose of buying, while others might have different motivations. Because of this reason, success could hinge on the store’s ability to attract visitors who are interested but not necessarily committed to buying cannabis products.
At the same time, these same challenges can offer new opportunities and rewards. With how many enter and leave a day, shopping malls are excellent for raising brand awareness. And with more visibility, these businesses could reach new demographics. Of course, as said before, reaching these audiences is contingent on how the stores advertise themselves. But if done successfully, we can start seeing cannabis stores opening up in more and more places.