Canada’s changing retail landscape

Shopping bag

First it was Target. Now Tiffany’s is opening stores, while Nordstrom will be here in 2014. Canadian retailers are changing, too, not only in preparation for the American invasion, but also to to capture an increasingly diverse consumer base.

In Canada, national department stores have all but disappeared – with only Hudson’s Bay remaining. We have US imports, such as WalMart, Target and Sears, but long gone are Canadian department stores Woolco, Woodwards and Eaton’s.

We are seeing a curious mix of retail segments develop. Mark’s Work Wearhouse, owned by Canadian Tire, has moved into the women’s segment in a big way, surpassing (I would say) their traditional work wear offerings. And Canadian Tire sells a whole lot more than tires these days, serving as one of Canada’s largest sporting goods retailers coast to coast.

Drug store chains, such as Shopper’s Drug Mart, have moved into groceries. There must be big margins in the grocery segment, because WalMart, Target and others also carry lettuce right next to the big screen TVs. Huh??

Similarly, SuperStore (Loblaws in eastern Canada) has expanded its grocery empire to include Joe Fresh clothing.

Automotive stores selling housewares and sporting goods. Drug stores selling groceries. Grocery stores selling clothes. Are these new configurations considered department stores? What market forces are determining the strange mixes we are now seeing?

It’s a jumble out there.

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