We’ve put together a list of the brands that have closed some or all of their Canadian locations to give you a heads up.
Many of these brands are still available online after going through the bankruptcy and restructuring processes to close their brick-and-mortar locations and shift to an ecommerce-first strategy. When one door closes a digital portal opens, or something like that.
If you have any unused gift cards lying around, it may be a good idea to use them up sooner rather than later.
Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack (2023)
The Seattle-based luxury department store chain, which launched in Canada in 2014, is closing all 13 of its locations in Canada – 6 Nordstrom stores and 7 Nordstrom Rack locations, laying off the company’s 2,330 staff. Locations included in the Rideau Centre in Ottawa, Chinook Centre in Calgary, Pacific Centre in Vancouver, CF Toronto Eaton Centre, Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Vaughan Mills and CF Sherway Gardens.
According to court filings, the Canadian operations have lost money every single year it has been in operation and the company “do not see a realistic path to profitability for the Canadian business”. The closure of the business is expected to result in a decline of US$400 million in net sales for the parent company.
Liquidation sales at all existing locations will start around March 20, 2023. Gift cards will be honoured until the end of liquidation for in-store purchases. Returns and exchanges will be permitted until March 17 at which point all sales and returns will be considered final.
Bed Bath & Beyond (2020-23)
As per a court filing on February 10, 2023, US retailer Bed Bath & Beyond’s Canadian operations are going out of business, closing 54 stores and 11 buybuy BABY stores. Gift cards were usable until May 8, 2023.
The Canadian company is insolvent and does not have the “capacity or ability to independently effect a recapitalization or restructuring of the Canadian operations without access to cash and the support” from the parent company and its lenders. Around 1,400 jobs (387 full-time and 1,038 part-time) will be lost across the country.
The homewares retailer and popular baby and wedding registry provider had previously announced in 2020 that it would close 21% – or over 200 – locations in the US and Canada.
Overstock.com purchased the intellectual property of Bed Bath & Beyond in June 2023 for $21.5 million and changed their name, website and branding to that of the defunct company. Note that the company is not the same, so old gift cards, etc. will not be accepted.
Banana Republic (2020-23)
Like it’s sister chain The Gap, the business and office attire retailer Banana republic is closing 130 locations across North America between 2020 and 2023. On the flip side, the parent company will be opening additional Old Navy and Athleta stores in that same time frame.
Disney Stores (2021)
The entertainment conglomerate Disney shut down almost all of its retail stores – including all 18 locations across Canada – by the end of summer 2021. The company is re-evaluating operations as consumer purchases continue to shift from brick and mortar to online and will be paying out the remainder of the amounts owing on its leases.
National Sports (2021)
Canadian Tire announced that it would close all of its 18 National Sports locations in 2021 to reduce the overlap in its sporting goods lineup and improve efficiency.
David’s Tea (2020)
The Canadian tea retailer filed for creditor protection on July 8, 2020. Sales had declined $28 million over the previous 3 years, but the recent mandatory store closures and uncertainty surrounding whether or not foot traffic will pick up at their stores after things open back up had made the trend “even worse”.
The company plans to close 82 stores across Canada and all of its 42 in the US as it shifts to focusing on ecommerce and wholesaling which will affect half its 2,500 employees. It will attempt to renegotiate leases for the remaining 100 stores in Canada, but will shut these as well if the terms are not favorable enough.
Frank & Oak (2020)
Quebec-based Canadian clothing retailer Frank and Oak filed for creditor protection June 29, 2020 and will be restructuring the business, including closing some of its 20 locations across Canada – which ones have yet to be determined.
Company filings point to “Changing consumer preferences, expensive leases and a general shift away from bricks-and-mortar shopping.” in addition to having revenues cut off for several months due to recent events. Initially launched in 2012 as an online-only brand, they were one of the first to make the jump to brick-and-mortar.
Microsoft announced June 26, 2020 that it would be closing its 7 stores in Canada as part of a “strategic change” for its retail business that includes closing almost all of it’s 83 physical locations around the world.
The health and nutrition retailer announced June 23, 2020 that it has filed for bankruptcy in the US. It will close at least 29 stores in Canada (complete list) as part of its restructuring plan and 800 to 1,200 stores globally.
The Children’s Place (2020-21)
The children’s clothing store announced it would close 200 brick-and-mortar locations in 2020 and 100 in 2021 across the US and Canada. The company operates “The Children’s Place”, “Place”, “Baby Place,” and “Gymboree” stores.
The Canadian retailer which owns the RW & CO. (80), Thyme Maternity (54), Addition Elle (77) and Penningtons (106) chains of stores was granted creditor protection on May 19, 2020 for its 576 stores under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA).
Founded in 1926, the mid-range fashion company will restructure options as they “look to optimize its retail footprint in Canada to emerge from this process in a stronger state” including closing all its Thyme Maternity and Addition Elle chains, laying off roughly 1,400 workers out of their 6,800 employees.
Ann Taylor, LOFT and Justice Stores (2020)
Their parent company Ascena Group Inc. filed for bankruptcy in the US in July 2020 and as part of the restructuring process agreed to close all of its stores in Canada, including 4 Ann Taylor stores, 9 LOFT stores, and almost 40 Justice stores. LOFT and Ann Taylor had entered Canada in 2012.
On May 8, 2020, the Montreal-based footwear and accessory retailer Aldo was one of the first Canadian retailers to file for creditor protection as expenses mounted as a result of the pandemic. Founded in 1972, Aldo was operating 287 stores in Canada, 300 in the US and over 3000 locations in 100 countries and employing 8,000 people.
Their plans to restructure their business include to “terminate a number of leases in the U.S. and Canada” in order to focus on online sales, resulting in 40% of its Canadian locations that will either not reopen or will shutter over the next while.
As of 2018, e-commerce was reported by the company to be just over half of their total revenues, though they have not been profitable for “a few years”. The company will continue to sell online during the process.
Pier 1 Imports (2020)
The Texas-based home furnishings and decor retailer, which had over 1,000 physical stores throughout the United States and Canada in January 2020, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on February 17, 2020, and announced it was asking the bankruptcy court to close all 540 stores in the US and Canada – 67 of which were in Canada – on May 19, 2020.
“Pier 1 is pursuing a sale of the Company and has commenced Chapter 11 proceedings in the U.S. to facilitate a sale process. In connection with this, the Company has made the decision to move forward in the U.S. and close all stores in Canada. We thank our customers in Canada for your continued loyalty and for shopping with us over the years.”
The athleisure brand Bench will be closing its 24 Canadian brick and mortar locations in 2020. The “athleisure” market has become a lot more crowded since Bench started in Manchester. Even with its growth analysts have said it needs to offer more to customers these days in a competitive and growing space. Don’t worry, if you are a fan you can still buy online.
Carlton Cards and Papyrus (2020)
Carlton will close 76 Canadian locations. In addition their sister company, Papyrus is also closing all locations across the US and Canada.
Their parent company Schurman Retail group filed for bankruptcy citing an over expansion in the mid 2000s and a “general downturn” in brick and mortar sales. Cards are still being manufactured, and will still be available at distributors and through their online store. Just remember, all sales are final.
Things Engraved (2020)
What Canadian hasn’t had a special gift engraved for a special person in their lives? It isn’t too expensive and really adds a personal touch to a frame, glass or pretty much, anything you can think of. Kids have been stopping at Things Engraved in malls across the country since 1982 getting Love You Mom engraved on a picture of themselves, or teenaged lovebirds engraving the name of their special somebody on a necklace charm.
Weddings have glasses engraved, anniversary gifts from year one to 50; you name it. Well, Things Engraved, made an announcement on their website that they are closing all brick and mortar locations due to the retail marketplace not thriving in Canada. Again, as with most other closures, you can still buy online.
So, don’t panic if you have an anniversary coming up and have forgotten to get something thoughtful.
The audio equipment retailer is closing all of its 24 Canadian stores as their products “are increasingly purchased through e-commerce”. They are not just closing Canadian stores, but all of their retail storefronts in the US, Canada, Europe, Japan and Autstralia. To continue to find BOSE products you can find them online at Amazon or through the BOSE website as well as partner retailers such as Best Buy.
Links of London (2020)
The Links Luxury brand of London is closing all Canadian locations in 2020. The first Canadian standalone location at the Eaton Centre in Toronto, opened in 2016 after exiting from their Holt Renfrew concession location. Amid financial turmoil and investor woes, the company has not been able to hold its market share amongst competitors who are launching new innovative designs. For lovers of this brand, it looks like their online presence has been shut down.
Ten Thousand Villages (2020)
A Canadian brand, “Ten Thousand Villages” is closing their doors after 74 years in business. This organization worked with artisans in developing countries to bring their products to the store and empower them to earn income through fair trading relationships.
Some locations are independently owned and will remain open, but the vast majority will be out of business by May 29, 2020. As with many other brands the press release from corporate stated an inability to operate a sustainable business model in a challenging retail environment. They are still operating online.
The fashion and footwear retailer for tall women is shutting down – including around a dozen stores across Canada.
The Toronto-based women’s apparel brand announced on July 21 that it filed for insolvency and plans to close 28 stores across the GTA and focus on its e-commerce model.
Winnipeg-based women’s retailer is liquidating its chain of 169 stores including Alia and Tan Jay.
The educational materials retailer announced on July 10 that it is closing 13 stores across the country and has filed for creditor protection. Their stores in London, Winnipeg and Moncton will remain open and act as regional distribution centres.
Bestseller Canada (2020)
The Denmark-based parent company of 60 Jack & Jones (a young men’s apparel line) and Vero Moda (affordable women’s clothing) stores filed for bankruptcy on June 2, 2020. It had been operating in Canada since 2015. Bestseller’s 5 multi-brand stores including Noisy May, Y.A.S., Only, Selected and other brands were closed in February 2020.
Comark Holdings Inc. (2020)
The Ontario-based parent company of Bootlegger, Ricki’s and Cleo filed for bankruptcy on June 3, 2020 with plans to close some less productive stores as part of its restructuring plans – though it has stated it needs “a significant show of support” from its landlords to do so.
Founded in 1919 as “Canada’s Original Discount Store”, the company announced on May 9, 2020 that it would be closing its five remaining locations in Vancouver, New Westminster, B.C., Langley, B.C., Calgary and Edmonton.
The shoe retailer based in Vancouver announced on April 8, 2020 that it was closing its 18 stores across British Columbia.
This brand had recently been opening stores as early as 2017. Then in the new year, German based, Thomas Sabo issued an official statement, confirming it is closing its remaining eight stores in Canada to focus on its e-commerce business.
“Thomas Sabo has decided to restructure its Canadian activities. A newly created company (TS e-commerce Ltd., Canada) will focus on the most relevant parts of the business, i.e. the online activities,” read the company statement.
Again, if you are a fan of this jewellery line, there are other businesses to choose from with storefronts, however you can still keep up with the trend by ordering online.
The Kansas-based footwear retailer Payless ShoeSource Canada Inc. filed for creditor protection in Canada in February 2019 and closed all 2,500 of its North American stores in 2019, including 248 in Canada, affecting 2,400 workers. It also shut down its e-commerce operations. In 2020, the company emerged from bankruptcy and launched a US ecommerce site.
The Canadian discount department store chain opened their doors in Canada in 1928 and have been owned by The Hudson’s Bay Company since 1978. The company sold the lease agreements for up to 220 Zellers stores to the US chain Target for $1.825 billion in January 2011.
The last two remaining Zellers locations in Toronto and Ottawa locations shut their doors and closed up the Canadian brand on January 26, 2020.
In August 2022, the Hudson’s Bay Company announced it would be reviving the Zellers brand through online shopping and 25 physical locations (pop-up shops within Hudson’s Bay department stores) in spring 2023.
Le Chateau (2020)
Founded in 1959, the Montreal-based fashion retailer issued a press release on July 6, 2020 warning that the company and its 124 stores may not survive another year without additional outside investment. On October 23, 2020, it was announced that Le Château Inc. and Château Stores Inc. would be filing for CCAA bankruptcy protection, liquidating its inventory and closing all 123 stores.
The company was already having financial difficulties before the pandemic. The company closed 10 stores in 2019, leaving them with 129 (including 12 fashion outlet stores).
The company had manufacture approximately 30% of the Company’s apparel in its own Canadian production facilities.
The company’s intellectual property and assets was purchased by Montreal-based Suzy Shier in June 2021.
Forever 21 (2019)
Forever 21 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on September 29, 2019 and announced that it was ceasing operations in 40 countries and closing a percentage of its 600 stores, including all 44 stores in Canada across Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia. It employed approximately 2,000 people.
The fast fashion retailer of women’s, men’s and kids clothing and accessories was founded in 1984, and headquartered in Los Angeles, California.
Claire de Lune (2019)
The Montreal-based home accessories and decor retailer closed 44 of its 70 stores in Quebec and Ontario on January 23, 2020 as part of a restructuring effort after taking shelter from its creditors in December 2019 under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. Claire de Lune was founded by the two Levy brothers in 1996.
As of 2023, a note on their website says they will not be reopening any stores.
Motherhood Maternity (2019)
Destination Maternity, the owner of Motherhood Maternity brand filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. in October 2019 and announced that it would close 13 Canadian stores as the company restructured. They announced they would close 183 stores in Canada in the US from their Destination Maternity, A Pea in the Pod, Motherhood Maternity stores, and outlet stores.
The company’s intellectual property and assets were then acquired by Marquee Brands LLC, which received approval to liquidate the remaining 235 stores across North America, including 29 Motherhood Maternity and Destination Maternity stores in Canada.
Gymboree, which began offering classes for mothers and their children in 1976, first filed for Chapter 11 in June 2017, closing 375 stores and again in November 2018, closing their Crazy 8 brand stores and a third time on January 17, 2019, closing all 380 remaining stores across the U.S. and Canada, 49 of which are in Canada. When it first sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June 2017, it had more than three times that many stores.
Payless Shoes (2019)
J Crew (2019-2021)
The American fashion retailer entered Canada in 2011. It was more than $2 billion in debt in 2017 and started to close stores in Canada in 2019 including in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, and outlets in Vancouver and Toronto. Its parent company Chinos Holdings filed for bankruptcy protection in May 2020, citing the COVID-19 pandemic. The final store at Toronto’s Yorkdale Mall closed in February, 2021, 10 years after J. Crew first started operations in Canada.
The retailer still sells online in Canadian dollars and ships across Canada.
The American fashion retailer entered Canada in 2011 and in May 2017 they announced that they would close all 17 of their stores in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario, citing a challenging Canadian retail environment and unfavourable exchange rates.
The retailer still sells online in US dollars and ships across Canada.
Sears Canada (2017)
The American department store chain entered Canada in 1952 as a joint venture between Sears and the Canadian department store chain Simpsons. In 2016, Sears Canada had 140 corporate stores (including full-line, Sears Home, and Sears Outlet stores), 71 Hometown stores, over 900 catalogue, and online merchandise pick-up locations, 69 Sears Travel offices, and a nationwide repair and service network.
In June 2017 the company filed for creditor protection and announced that it would begin closing its stores and laying off employees. By January 14, 2018 all stores were closed and 14,140 employees had lost their jobs.
The US-based discount retailer and Walmart competitor entered the Canadian market in a rapid and aggressive expansion in March 2013 by acquiring the real estate holdings of Zellers Inc., a subsidiary of Hudson’s Bay Company for $1.825 billion. opened its first store in Canada closing all 133 stores, letting 17,600 employees go and losing a total of $2.5 billion in operating losses and a $5.4 billion write-down for the US parent company by April 12, 2015 – just over 2 years after they opened their first store.
Partial closures and store adjustments
Founded in 1909, Canada’s largest photography retailer will be closing its stores in Coquitlam, Langley, and Victoria, BC andand in Brampton, Markham, Nepean, and Sudbury, ON permanently. The rest of its 22 stores and e-commerce operations will continue operations.
L Brands which operates the two chains announced on May 20, 2020 that it will close 13 of its 38 Victoria’s Secret stores and 1 Bath & Body Works store in Canada as it restructures its business to stay afloat as sales have declined.
Bentley Leathers (2019)
Bentley’s is a slightly different story. They announced that they will close about 90 underperforming stores in Canada, leaving the chain with 163 locations. This is a restructuring effort to boost profitability. They are also being innovative with four new “Store of the Future” locations with the first one opening in Point-Claire, QC.
The company’s President and CEO, Walter Lamothe said in a Retail Insider article, “This process has been put in place to secure the long-term viability of the Company for the best interest of its employees, customers and suppliers.” Continue looking for Bentley shops at your local mall, and you can always purchase online.
The Gap (2019-)
The parent company of retailer Gap made an announcement in February 2019 that they would close over 230 stores around the globe. As of 2020, 10 stores have been closed across Canada. This means you might not find your favourite GAP jeans at your local store, but remember; they continue to service customers online and offer several other brands in Canada like Old Navy.
La Senza (2020)
Founded in Quebec in 1990 and now owned by a US-based private equity firm, the Canadian lingerie and intimate apparel retailer is set to close 17 more stores in Canada in 2020.
They are still selling online and continue to operate over one hundred stores in Canada. Multiple suppliers filed asking to have La Senza be put into Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the US as they owe over $9 million to suppliers.
They have been closing locations since 2013. At its peak, La Senza was the dominant lingerie retailer in Canada, with 322 corporate-owned stores across the country in January 2009. As of September 2020, La Senza owned and operated 74 stores in Canada and one in the United States, and had a franchise agreement with 202 international stores, for a total of 277 locations worldwide.
RONA – Lowe’s (2020)
The American home improvement retailer Lowe’s purchased the Canadian home improvement retailer Rona in May, 2016 for $3.2 billion.
At the end of 2019, Lowe’s announced the closure of 34 under performing stores across Canada, including 26 Ronas, 6 Lowe’s, and 2 Reno-Depots.
In November 2022, Lowe’s agreed to sell its Canadian operations of 450 corporate and independent Dick’s Lumber, Reno-Depot, Lowe’s Canada and RONA stores to the private equity firm Sycamore Partners for $400 million. Lowe’s stores in Canada will eventually be renamed to RONA.
The Quebec-based Canadian outdoor retailer has 14 stores across Ontario and Quebec and employs 1,800 has filed for bankruptcy protection and announced on June 4, 2020 that it will be closing 4 stores (Quebec City, St-Hubert, Laval and Kirkland in Quebec and Vaughan and Etobicoke in Ontario) that will affect 500 workers.
Regulatory filings dated June 10, 2020 confirm Starbucks plans to close 200 stores out of its more than 1,400 across Canada over the next 2 years. Store openings and closing are expected for the chain – it expects to open 300 locations in the Americas this year and typically closes around 100 locations per year. The chain has been testing pickup-only locations that could become a part of their wider strategy as they’ve found that 80% of visitors come in, grab their purchase and leave – even before recent events.
US clothing retailer and brand licenser Guess? Inc. has closed 6 between 2020 and 2022 and now have 74 stores across Canada according to their annual report.
The Swedish fast-fashion retailer has closed 2 of its stores in downtown Toronto:
- 427-429 Queen St. W., opened August 2007, closed on Dec. 11, 2022
- 13-15 Bloor Street West opened its doors in 2004, closed on Jan. 22, 2023
The chain has about 90 stores in Canada – almost 40 of which are in Ontario.
Experts point to the rise of online shopping during the pandemic, increasing rents and decreased foot traffic in the downtown core, resulting in less need for physical stores.
Wow will shut several stores but continues to operate Canadian mobile kiosks. Parent company Match Transact stated the following, “We have recently made some operational changes resulting in the impending closure of a small number of WOW! mobile boutique kiosk locations.
WOW! mobile boutique continues to be an important retail partner for carriers and will continue to offer Canadians a great selection of wireless services in more than 80 locations.” WOW is a jointly owned Rogers and Telus operation and sells several brands including Koodo, Fido, Chatr and Public. The loss of these locations will inevitably cause less choice for consumers, especially in rural locations without online purchasing options.
Don’t worry, your massive Ikea location that you can get lost in and have a fabulous Swedish lunch is not closing. Ikea Canada will be closing their new Pick-Up and order locations in Ontario. The last five locations in Kitchener, London, St. Catharines, Whitby, and Windsor. These locations were a test aimed at evaluating customer response to new retail formats and were opened in 2015. The test has concluded and the Swedish furniture giant has evaluated this is not the direction they will be taking.
Customers have until Jan. 15 to order a delivery to one of the pick-up and order locations, and until Jan. 29 to pick up a delivery.
For shoppers in London, Ontario a full sized location plan has been put on pause for the moment while they reevaluate the rapidly changing retail environment.
Holt Renfrew has been a staple Canadian luxury brand for many years. Teens across the country can remember walking past the Place Ville Marie location on their way to the train dreaming of the day they could afford to shop there. The Bloor street location has always been a beacon for luxury shoppers and for those who want a taste there is the Vaughan Mills outlet location if you can afford the discounted prices.
For 2020 Holt’s has decided to close it’s 69 year old Edmonton location to focus on large-format store models. One of these will open in Montreal in the spring amidst a $400 million expansion plan.
It doesn’t look like Holt Renfrew is leaving storefront retail anytime soon, they are just making some adjustments. As always, they also offer online shopping.
The men’s clothing and formalwear company announced on that they were filing for Chapter 11 protection as part of “creating a leaner and more nimble structure to adapt to the realities of today’s retail environment”. While they state that they “will continue to have stores across Canada operating as usual” (see their store locator), the announcement does mention:
For added peace of mind, if your nearest store is closing, we have developed contingency plans to give you the choice to either pick up from a different nearby store or have your rental shipped directly to you, for free.
The ‘Retail apocalypse’
While some store closures are normal and due to the routine re-evaluation and re-location of business operations, there has been an increasing number of closures and bankruptcies of brick and mortar retail stores and chains – particularly those that are mall-based. This trend has been termed the ‘Retail Apocalypse’.
Some of the primary drivers of their decline being:
- Shift to ecommerce: Consumers preferring greater choice and the convenience of free shipping, 24/7 accessibility, reviews and price matching has brought with it the rise and rapid growth of the likes of Amazon and Shopify.
- Experience economy: Changes in consumer spending habits have shifted away from material (clothing and accessories) to experiences (recreational services).
- Shrinking middle class: Stagnant real wages and higher household debt burdens, while staying in school, starting careers, getting married and buying homes later means it’s taking longer now to achieve a middle-class lifestyle. Brands that relied on this market segment are folding while discount and high-end brands are flourishing.
- Poor management: A focus on short-term profits and the inability and/or unwillingness to adapt to changes in consumer preferences and new technologies left long-standing retailers overloaded with debt and teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.
- COVID-19 pandemic: The pandemic further accelerated some of these trends and the mandatory closures that with it resulted in 60% of retail businesses reporting their revenue was down by at least 20% in the first quarter of 2020 according to Statistics Canada.
Over to you
I’m interested to know – which of these stores were your favorites to shop at? Let me know by leaving a comment below!