Home decor chain Pier 1, Carlton Cards and Forever 21 are simply the latest in a growing list of retailers closing their doors in Canada or filing for bankruptcy.
And several analysts told CTVNews.ca the underlying issue is that these chains haven’t kept up with changes in shoppers who have shifted online shopping.
Doug Stephens, founder of consulting agency Retail Prophet, said people are looking for an experience when they go to any type of business – bricks and mortar ones or otherwise.
“You have to be able to promise consumers one of two things: you’re either going to promise them time well-saved or time well-spent,” he told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview.
Stephens argued shoppers can save time in online stores such as Amazon, while more innovative successful stores, such as Nordstrom, go the other route and give shoppers an experience. But stores that are closing are offering neither of those things, he said.
“Often times what we find is that these are not brands that have necessarily carved a distinct … piece of the market,” he said. “They’ve been sort of left to languish in the middle of the market.”
Here is a list of some of the major chains in Canada closing all their doors, shuttering their locations or that have been hit by bankruptcy in the past two years:
On Feb. 17, the home decor chain Pier 1 announced it was closing all of its stores in Canada, as the retailer began bankruptcy proceedings in the United States.
In January, the company announced it was closing up to 450 of its 942 stores in Canada and the U.S. At the time, they said this was “in order to better align its business with the current operating environment.”
PAPYRUS AND CARLTON CARDS
On Jan. 22, the owner of greeting card retailers including Carlton Cards and Papyrus announced it was closing all of its stores in North America, including 76 Canadian locations. The Carlton Cards and Papyrus online stores will remain open.
On the same day, the owner of apparel store Bench’s Canadian operations confirmed to BNN that all 24 locations would be closed. The company was founded in the U.K. in 1989 and it has changed hands multiple times before it was acquired by U.S. restructurer Gordon Brothers.
TEN THOUSAND VILLAGES CANADA
On Jan. 21, fair-trade retailer Ten Thousand Villages announced its plans to shutter many of its stores. The closures include all Ontario stores except for one each in the Ontario towns of Port Colborne and Cobourg.
U.S.-based audio equipment retailer Bose will reportedly shutter all of its remaining Canadian stores, as part of the chain’s closure of 119 locations around the world, according to online publication Retail Insider reported in early January. This follows a handful of Bose’s other standalone store closures in Canada.
On January 14, the head of Kitchener, Ont.-based retailer Things Engraved announced plans to shut all of its 73 stores after terminating its entire workforce. CEO Shawn Black told CTVNews.ca the company had been unprofitable for several years and couldn’t compete with online retailers such as Amazon.
LINKS OF LONDON
In January 2020, Retail Insider also reported the once-popular jeweller Links Of London was planning on closing all five of its Canadian stores in the coming year. This followed earlier news in October that the chain was liquidating its American and U.K. locations.
The Montreal-based luggage and bag retailer is reportedly shuttering 88 stores in Canada and cut 422 jobs, several outlets reported in December 2019. The company currently has 251 stores in Canada and the closures of the chain’s less-profitable luggage stores were first announced in November 2019, BNNBloomberg reported.
In November 2019, the home renovations retailer Lowe’s announced it would close 34 “underperforming” stores across six provinces, CTV News reported. The closures add to the shuttering of 31 Canadian Lowe’s and Rona locations, including 27 stores and four other facilities, announced in November 2018.
And also in November, the Montreal-based home décor retailer Bouclair filed notices to make a proposal under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. Across Canada, 29 of the chain’s 60 locations will close.
At the end of last summer, Los Angeles-based clothing retailer Forever 21 announced it would be closing all 44 of the Canadian locations and leaving the country altogether, CTV News reported.
Once a giant in the Canadian retail landscape, Zellers said its last two remaining locations in Toronto and Ottawa are slated to close early in 2020, CTV News Ottawa reported in September. At its peak, it had 350 stores across Canada with half a billion dollars in sales annually.
In the fall of 2019, maternity retailer Destination Maternity, which owns Motherhood Maternity, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. And after it was acquired by Marquee Brands LLC., it was announced that all stores across North America, including 29 Motherhood Maternity stores in Canada would close.
Back in March, the San Francisco-based fashion retailer announced it was shuttering almost half of its brand locations across the world over the next two years. This follows waves of other store closures in the past three years.
Gap didn’t disclose how many of its 230 upcoming North America store closures would be in Canada, The Canadian Press reported.
In Feb. 2019, Canadian retailer Hudson’s Bay announced it would be closing all Home Outfitters locations — including 37 stores across Canada.
Children’s retailer Gymboree filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for the second time in January 2019, with the company announcing that it would be shuttering all its locations in Canada and the U,S.
With files from CTVNews.ca writers Ryan Flanagan, Graham Slaughter, Solarina Ho and The Canadian Press