VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – When you head to the mall for back-to-school shopping, you may notice some unfamiliar stores, thanks to our friends south of the line.

A local retail consultant says the American retail shift can actually be a good thing, because it forces Canadian companies to “up” their game.

David Ian Gray with DIG360 Consulting says we’re seeing US stores like J.Crew and Victoria’s Secret pop up on this side of the border. We’re also seeing even more of a global retail shift with shops from as far as Spain now opening their doors here.

He adds having American stores in Vancouver isn’t a bad thing for consumers because you’ll see more selection of better products at a reasonable price. However, it’s a different story for Canadian businesses.

“It’s either pushing them out or it’s making them better. When the best of the world comes to town, you better do well to compete or close-up,” he explains.

He adds big-name Canadian companies, like Montreal-based Aldo, are around; we’re just not seeing them as much.

Gray believes the American retail shift is here to stay, adding it’ll soon be hard to notice the difference between a mall here and one in Seattle.

“When these new chains become the flavour of the month, the landlords [of the shopping centres] in particular… are often falling over backwards to get them in, often at the expense of unique, independent boutiques,” he points out.