2019 Retail Recap: Store Openings, Store Closings, and Beyond

Every year, store openings, store expansions, and store closures affect the Canadian retail industry. 2019 was no different.

As we say hello to 2020, we’re looking back at the biggest Canadian retail news of the past 12 months to see where we might be headed next.

Store Expansions

Retailers expanding across Canada are often either:

  • Fitting a niche, like men’s suit wear.
  • Falling into either the retail high-end or retail low-end, but not so much in between.
  • Adapting to modern times through new technology, supply chain optimization, or meeting consumer expectations – such as more sustainable fashion.

Here are some examples of how that looked in 2019:

  • Since March 2018, Nordstrom Rack has added seven stores across Canada. The latest, announced in fall 2019, is opening in Langley, B.C. Additional locations are expected to open in Metro Vancouver.
  • Sherwin-Williams, a paint manufacturer, added 31 net new stores in North America in the first nine months of 2019.
  • IKEA Canada expanded in 2019, but with a smaller footprint. The home goods retailer began opening smaller, urban stores
  • Canadian footwear retailer, L’Intervalle, has opened 14 stores in the past five years and could be opening more in the future.
  • Leon’s Furniture is continuing its expansion. It recently opened a smart store in Coldbrook, N.S. with an 11’ video wall that allows shoppers to view any piece of furniture in real size.
  • Dollarama continued to expand across Canada in 2019. It also launched an e-commerce store, selling its products online.
  • Giant Tiger also expanded rapidly in 2019, breaking ground on a new headquarters and opening new stores across the country.
  • In addition to plans to open more flagship stores, Suitsupply partnered with Nordstrom to open in-store concessions in three stores.
  • Balzac’s Coffee Roasters, a specialty coffee shop, currently has four locations under development. They have also partnered with Porter Airlines as their in-flight coffee provider.

Store Openings

As existing retailers expanded their Canadian presence, new brands entered the market space for the first time.

International retailers continued to open locations in Canada in 2019, with brands such as L.L. Bean, MUMOSO, and Reformation opening stores this past year.

Some examples from 2019 include:

  • Swiss Chocolate Brand, Läderach, opened its first standalone flagship store in North America at the Toronto Eaton Centre.
  • Balenciaga, a French luxury brand, opened its first standalone Canadian storefront at Yorkdale Shopping Centre.
  • Aéropostale, a U.S. retailer that was previously in Canada but left in 2016, made its return last year. They launched collections in 75 Bluenotes stores across Canada. They plan to add 20-to-30 freestanding new concept stores in Canada in 2020.
  • Chinese sports brand Li-Ning launched its first retail showrooms in Canada in Ottawa and the Greater Toronto Area.

Many of the retailers entering the Canadian market space are choosing to do so in large centres or popular shopping areas – like the Toronto Eaton Centre, Yorkdale Shopping Centre, the West Edmonton Mall, downtown Montreal, or Vancouver.

Store Closures

While 2019 saw store expansions and openings, unfortunately, it also saw a continued trend of store closures.

These include:

  • Payless ShoeSource closed all 248 Canadian stores and about 2,300 in the United States.
  • Home Outfitters closed all 37 stores.
  • Green Earth closed all its stores, as did Jean Machine.
  • The last two Zellers locations in Canada closed their doors.
  • Town Shoes closed its final doors in January.
  • Gymboree closed all U.S. and Canadian stores.
  • Forever 21 closed its 44 locations in Canada after filing for bankruptcy.
  • Bentley Leathers is closing about 90 stores in Canada.
  • And more…

Many of the stores that have closed did not have an e-commerce presence. They also tended to be more “legacy” brands that fell into the middle market, vs. finding a niche or fitting in the retail high-end or low-end.

What do you think will happen in 2020? Will we see more store openings, expansions, or closures? Share your thoughts with us on social media. Storesupport Canada is on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

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