On the busiest shopping day of the year, Canada's largest retail mall can probably expect a little lift this Boxing Day.
Cadillac Fairview, the real estate arm of Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan with $28 billion in assets, signed an exclusive partnership just before Christmas that includes a dedicated pick-up and drop-off zone for ride-sharing company Lyft at CF Toronto Eaton Centre, which is also the busiest mall in North America by foot traffic.
"This started with a conversation between the two companies, and right from the beginning we were both focused on what we can do to improve the experience," said Craig Flannagan, vice-president of marketing with Cadillac Fairview. "This allows us to have a dedicated spot and we can take advantage of an efficient, more elevated experience versus any point that could be a more busy street or corner."
Located in the heart of downtown Toronto, the Eaton Centre can be challenging to access beyond the subway system because the streets around it are littered with no stopping zones.
"This lets our shoppers do what they are already doing because ride-sharing has become increasingly popular," said Flannagan.
The shopping centre is already one of Lyft's most popular destinations for picking up and dropping off visitors. The pick-up zone will be on James Street at Albert's Way, located outside of Aritzia at CF Toronto Eaton Centre's west exit.
Flannagan said the mall gets a large percentage of customers via subway but sees traffic from walking, ride-sharing and biking. "We get a real slice of Toronto because so many people come through here," he said.
Cadillac sees ride-sharing as a growth opportunity for all of its malls with CF Eaton Centre as the first experiment. "One of the things we will test is what is the need for ride-sharing in an urban area or a metropolitan setting versus a suburban area," said Flannagan, adding the company's malls are large enough that being dropped at one specific location makes it easier for shoppers who probably won't get to every store.
Cadillac and Lyft are also creating an enhanced app experience allowing riders to better select where they want to be dropped off and picked up based on what restaurant, office or retailer they are visiting.
"This will help us learn where we go forward," said Flannagan, about the data. Special offers will also be available via the app.
Officials with Lyft, which launched about a year ago in Toronto, were not available for comment. "We're so excited to help riders get to and from their shopping with ease, and help drivers maximize their trips," said Aaron Zifkin, managing director for Canada at Lyft, in a statement.