Consumer spending and population and immigration growth are all contributing to the economic recovery across the GTA. But, the commercial market remains a key factor in helping gauge when we’ll be on track to a full recovery. At TRREB’s latest Commercial Development Forum, industry experts broke down the latest employment numbers, the future of workplaces, the reinvention of shopping malls, and more. 

When looking at the current state of office and retail spaces, it’s clear recovery will happen once lockdowns lift and widespread vaccination spark a permanent return back to workplaces for many employees. 

Almost immediately, the pandemic created a drop-off in office leases. However, let’s not forget what the office space embodies and what this means for new workplaces. “Onboarding and engaging employees is proving difficult in our virtual world,” points out Toronto Region Board of Trade President and CEO Jan De Silva. “Days of back-to-back Zoom meetings are more transactional and less engaging. Employees are missing a personal connection to their organization and colleagues.”

And, while there’s been a hike in demand for warehouses and distribution spaces during the pandemic, this isn’t what quite unfolded with shopping malls. “Recovery has not been uniform. Retail spaces have shifted away from the bricks and mortar stores and moved to the realm of e-commerce sales,” said TRREB Chief Market Analyst Jason Mercer.  

Looking beyond the pandemic, “there are continued challenges in malls”, and this raises the question will consumers continue to shop online. On the other hand, “you’ll start to see warehouses dedicated to online returns, resulting in an increasing demand for the industrial sector,” said Altus Group’s Vice President of Data Operations, Ray Wong. 

For even more on the commercial market, watch  how employment and retail trends seem to be mirroring each other, what will it take to get people back to the office, and what areas are shaping up to be the best investment opportunity for commercial space when it comes to price.

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