Thanks to a thriving economy, Alberta is looking to lead the way in year-over-year retail spending in 2012.

According to Colliers International’s Fall 2012 Retail Report, Albertans are expected to spend almost $70 billion this year – an 8.91 per cent year-over-year increase over 2011. With the holiday season fast approaching, Albertans are also on target to see the largest year-over-year increase when it comes to Christmas shopping as well with forecasted spending for December at $6.99 billion, an 8.72 per cent year-over-year increase compared to 2011.

In order to support the needs of all those anticipated shoppers, the report states “power centre-type retail” expanded in most major markets over the last year.

“Calgary continued to show solid development market strength, adding more than 1.4 million (sq. ft.) of net new shopping mall space, and a net addition of almost 160,000 (sq. ft.) of power centre,” said the report.

Calgary shopping malls have seen a steady increase of square footage throughout the last three years with a total of 18,700 sq. ft. in 2010, 19,264 in 2011 and 20,704 forecasted for 2012.

Growing retail demand in Alberta is echoed by continuing strength in Canada’s commercial real estate market.

“Given the appetite for tangible investments with long-term revenue streams and potential for appreciation, commercial real estate has been gaining favour and is expected to be a top performer well into the new year,” said Alton Ash, regional executive vice president, RE/MAX of Western Canada. “Despite the enthusiasm, demand is unlikely to be satisfied while those same benefits are promoting owners/landlords to hold on to their properties, especially with the prospect of capital gains taxes down the road.

“It’s a push-pull situation, yet buyers are forging ahead, hoping to ride the wave of year-over-year doubledigit equity gains a little while longer.”

Hoping to help satisfy that commercial demand in Calgary is one of its newest communities, the East Village. According to the Calgary Herald the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) has placed two parcels of East Village land on the market as commercial opportunities. Just east of the Simmons Building, the first parcel is 10,800 sq. ft. and the second, on Riverfront Avenue and Fourth Street is broken into two because of the Fourth Avenue flyover and totals 15,000 and 26,000 sq. ft.

“They’re smaller parcels . . . The rationale really for taking them to market now is this entire year we’ve been focused on a retail strategy and as we’ve worked through what we call Phase One of a consumer campaign, it’s becoming more apparent to us that the narrative on a retail story has to be told to the consumer. And that shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody,” Susan Veres, vice-president of marketing and communications for CMLC told the Herald.

The commercial space will join an East Village that is gradually taking shape with mixed-use offerings from Vancouver-based Embassy Bosa Inc. and Ontario’s FRAM+SLOKKER as well as a proposed East Village Hilton project which would include both a Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Inn and Suites under one roof.