Millennials living outside the home
Entertainment, commerce geared to generation that likes to spend
Big city millennials are spending less time in their small living spaces and more time and money on entertainment elsewhere, retail and real estate executives said during a panel at the Vancouver Real Estate Forum last week.
The executives were gathered for a talk on the evolution of retail spaces and consumer habits. Among the speakers was Chris Doulos, vice-president of real estate for Cineplex Entertainment.
Cineplex, the Toronto-based cinema and entertainment company, is undergoing a transformation and expansion of its business model, Doulos said.
The company operates 163 theatres across the country and is seeking new ways to improve the theatre experience, while also launching new entertainment businesses in Canada.
The company recently opened Cineplex Cinemas Marine Gateway and VIP — a 56,588-squarefoot cinema at Southwest Marine Drive and Cambie Street. The theatre has seven traditional auditoriums, an UltraAVX auditorium with D-BOX Motion Seats, and three VIP Cinema auditoriums, which include a private licensed lounge, outdoor patio and in-seat food and alcohol service.
Millennials — roughly those aged 18-35 — are central to their expansion plans, Doulos said.
Cineplex’s research suggests many young Canadians are moving back into urban cores — especially in Toronto and Vancouver — and living in smaller spaces without room for recreation or entertaining, Doulos said.
To tap into that market, Cineplex is launching a new business called Rec Room, a series of massive entertainment complexes for a young adult clientele.
The 40,000- to 60,000-squarefoot centres will have gaming, live entertainment, meeting rooms, casual fine-dining and activities such as bocce and axe-throwing, Doulos said. The first one is set to open this summer in Edmonton, followed by others in Calgary and Toronto. Doulos said there could be as many as 15 in other major Canadian cities.
“The whole concept was developed around that demographic and what they’re doing,” he said. “They’re living in 400- to 500-square-foot condos in urban centres … They entertain outside the home, because they can’t entertain in 400 square feet.”
Cineplex’s research suggests these young urbanites go out sever- al times a week and use the money they’re not spending on expensive real estate and vehicles for entertainment and shopping.
“They live a lifestyle that you would think they earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, but it’s because they’re not spending that money elsewhere,” Doulos said. “They want to be able to interact in different ways.”
Doulos said the cinema experience is also changing to keep up with the demands of the young generation. The theatres are getting smaller, with more high-tech seating and interactivity.
He said the message at the beginning of every movie has always been to turn off your phone when the film rolls.
“Maybe don’t turn off your phone,” he said, explaining Cineplex’s cinema audiences could eventually be using “multiple screens in the auditorium.”
Millennials are also spending a lot of time and money in shopping malls, said Franco Custodinho, senior vice-president of shopping centres in central and Western Canada for Ivanhoe Cambridge, which owns Metropolis at Metrotown and Oakridge Centre.
Custodinho said Ivanhoe Cambridge recently hired the retail adviser firm J.C. Williams Group to conduct nationwide market research to learn more about the shopping habits of millennials. They received the findings at the end of 2015. One of the questions was how often the respondent visited their local mall.
“It was shocking,” Custodinho said .“Within the course of a month, 89 per cent of them still made their way to the shopping centre between one and four times.”
He said 37 per cent of them were visiting once a week. “That is very impressive. Those stats are very high.”
Last year, almost all of Canada’s top-25 most productive shopping centres saw sales-per-square-foot gains over the previous year, according to a March report by Retail Insider.
Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre surpassed Vancouver’s Pacific Centre to become Canada’s most productive mall, according to the report, which noted Yorkdale also topped the list as Canada’s top selling mall, with sales of more than $1.2 billion annually.
Despite online shopping, brickand-mortar retail continues to thrive, Custodinho said.
“Those better centres just keep getting better — the Yorkdales, the Toronto Eaton Centres, the Pacific Centres, the Oakridges.”
For many young people, shopping has become their entertainment and high-end stores continue to be the main attraction, he said.
Custodinho recalled a period in the late 1990s and early 2000s when they created a wing at Metropolis that focused on entertainment and gimmicky attractions like the Rainforest Cafe, Playdium and Planet Superstar.
“There was a store called Superstar, and Planet Superstar was a large version of it with a full-blown running track down the middle of it,” he said. “You know what? It was exciting for all of three months, and the balance of the mall that was focused on fashion flourished, and that wing struggled.”
He said those gimmicky stores are gone, but the young consumers continue to come.