• big-box retailing;
  • GTA;
  • structural impacts

The recent introduction of big box retailers into Canadian cities has altered dramatically the competitive retail landscape. This rapid restructuring of the urban retail economy have occurred since the introduction of the big box/power centre phenomenon in the early 1990s. The analysis integrates the extensive databases that reside at the Centre for the Study of Commercial Activity with insights gained from the popular press. These two sources of information were used to interpret the spatial and structural impacts of big box retailing on the traditional urban retail structure in the Greater Toronto Area. The growth of the big boxes illustrates the form of retail development that results from more permissive retail land use policies. A period where the development policies and processes of the past that controlled shopping centre development has been replaced by a more laissez-faire approach.