Tuesday, May 12, 2020


By Ana Kippel

Retail in Transition 

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

I was never someone who shopped online, BUT…like millions of people, I have to get used to this new world. We have to become electronically connected. Fast. But how will I get my retail therapy? On my computer or phone, I suppose. 

Here are some retailers that are closing some or all of their stores within Canada. This is a sort list, but unfortunately there will be many more to come.

People are not purchasing greeting cards as much anymore in this digital age, and stores such as Dollarama offer a variety often at a fraction of the price, of those found in retailers such as Carlton Cards. This greeting card and gift chain, owned by Papyrus, is also closing down all of its stores in Canada. The company has 10 stores in British Columbia, 8 stores in Alberta, 3 stores in Saskatchewan, 3 stores in Winnipeg, 25 stores in Ontario, at least 2in Quebec, 5 stores in Nova Scotia, and 2 in Newfoundland. Five stores in New Brunswick and PEI are listed as closed, as is one in St. John’s Newfoundland. 

Quebec-based home accessories and decor retailer Clair de Lune will close 44 of its 70 stores in Quebec and Ontario as part of a restructuring. President Abert Levy blamed online shopping and excessively high rents in malls. The company, which employs about 300 people, filed for creditor protection on December 17.

Canadian fashion retailer La Senza, known for its intimate apparel, is said to be closing 17 stores in Canada. La Senza will continue to function its many remaining Canadian stores across the country; though some landlords have said quite a few stores have been struggling. The future of the entire La Senza chain is in question.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

San Francisco based fashion retailer The Gap is downsizing its Canadian footprint by closing at least 9 of its Canadian stores. This follows several others that have closed over the past couple of years. New store closures include Gap units at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre and on Queen Street West, Government Street in Victoria BC, Fairview Park in Kitchener ON, Centre Rockland in Montreal, as well as at Pacific Centre in Vancouver and at Bower Place in Red Deer, Alberta.

Gap Kids stores at Toronto Eaton Centre and at the Yonge-Eglinton Centre in Toronto are part of the closures as well. 

Struggling US-based home furnishings chain Pier 1 announced this month that it would close up to 450 of its 942 stores. The company hasn’t yet revealed how many of those are in Canada. Some landlords have said that sales have been less than stellar for some Canadian stores, and it remains to be seen if any will remain open.

The gift and keepsake engraving retailer Things Engraved shut its Canadian stores this year after being in business for 38 years. Things Engraved operated 73 stores, about a third of which were kiosks, in Canada earlier this month; which was down from 90 locations in the summer of 2018.

Things Engraved’s website states: “It is no secret that the current brick-and-mortar retail marketplace has not been a thriving sector of the Canadian economy, and this has unfortunately rung true for Things Engraved. Because of this, it is with great sadness that we have regrettably been forced to shut down our store locations. Our online store will remain open until further notice.”

Photo courtesy of GAP

Canadian luxury multi-brand retailer Holt Renfrew closed its Edmonton store this past January and will close its Montreal store on Sherbrooke Street West this spring. In Montreal, the spectacular 250,000 square foot Holt Renfrew Ogilvy will be finished in the spring, which was made possible by merging Selfridges Group-owned Ogilvy and Holt Renfrew. The Holt Renfrew chain overall is said to be doing well, with several units seeing annual sales well surpassing $100 million. 

Victoria’s Secret has closed its large store at Sherway Gardens in Toronto. Other store closures for the lingerie and underwear retailer are expected — the number of store closures in Canada over the course of the next three months will likely well surpass 500, which could be record-breaking in terms of total store count.

Gymboree has filed for bankruptcy protection for a second time in as many years, but this time the children's clothing retailer will begin winding down operations in the U.S. and Canada for good.

Aritzia will be closing all stores across Canada till further notice. Although customers will still be able to shop online. The retailer says it feels it's the best decision for its people, clients, partners and community as a whole.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

This pandemic is hitting many retailers hard. It’s extremely sad that many will have to close. But what will happen to retail after this is over? This may be an opportunity for companies to restructure and start simple. We need a new retail channel, less frills, more simple, really we need a new way of marketing. This pandemic has turned the whole retail world upside down.

Warren Buffet, a known business and investor tycoon, and philanthropist, is the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. Buffet has said that the “department store” was attractive in the late 60’s but now no one cares anymore. 

It is becoming more difficult to run an old-school retail operation. The biggest lesson here is that retail needs and will change. Only companies that are willing to change will be able to adapt.

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