Target Canada announced last week that their expansion into Canada has been a total failure and they will be shutting down all stores.
The 133 stores and over 17,000 employees will be affected.
In Winnipeg, the Polo Park location just barely opened.
It has been known for some time that Target was struggling in Canada. The losses have mounted to over $2 billion. The liquidation of the stores will cost upwards of $600 million.
The reasons for Target’s failure is numerous but high prices, empty shelves, poor locations and comparing poorly to their American cousin are generally accepted as being the top complaints.
Target was initially welcomed in Canada with huge enthusiasm but soon disappointment set in. The company’s response was that they were competitive in Canada and it was unfair to compare Canada’s Target to America’s stores. The problem is that Canadians didn’t think they were competitive and it was hard not to believe that they couldn’t get what was seen in U.S. stores.
Job growth in Canada in 2014 was very slow. And with oil prices dropping, there is some indication the economy is going to be tough in 2015 for some provinces. The massive failure of Target will be just added salt to an economy still not recovered from one slide after another since 2008.
It is difficult to imagine just what will happen to all the closed stores. It is possible Walmart might pick up some of the best locations. But then again, why would they if there were bad spots to begin with.
Target might not be the only department store to die in 2015. By all accounts, Sears Canada is also circling the drain. The U.S. Sears shuttered a large amount of K-Marts and Sears just in the last days. This is on top of all the other closures.
Another store in Canada announced their liquidation this week as well. Mexx will begin the process of selling off all their stock.
What did it all mean? This is hard to tell. However, any sense of triumph about the Canadian economy going forward is sure to be muted.
Fear is now replacing confidence in many regions and many sectors.
This has been a guest editorial by John Dobbin.
To read more from John, visit his blog Observations, Reservations, Conversations