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.
We’ve put together a list of the following brands closing Canadian locations to give you a heads up. Don’t despair, many of these brands are still available online. When one door closes a digital portal opens, or something like that.
That said, we also think it would be wise to use any unused gift cards that may be lying around sooner rather than later…
The entertainment conglomerate Disney will be shutting 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.
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.
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.
The homewares retailer announced in 2020 that it would close 21% – or over 200 – locations in the US and Canada. The haven’t yet announced which locations in Canada will get the axe.
The men’s clothing and formalwear company announced on August 3 that they are 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”, 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 Montreal-based fashion retailer issued a press release on July 6 warning that the company and its 124 stores may not survive another year without additional outside investment.
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 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.
The massive technology company announced June 26 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 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.
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.
As of June 29, 2020, Quebec-based Canadian clothing retailer Frank and Oak has filed for creditor protection 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.
The children’s clothing store is closing 200 brick-and-mortar locations this year and 100 next year across the US and Canada.
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.
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The shoe retailer based in Vancouver announced on April 8, 2020 that it was closing its 18 stores across British Columbia.
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.
On May 8, 2020, 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 currently operates 287 stores in Canada, 300 in the US and over 3000 locations in 100 countries and employs 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.
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.
Well, it’s true. Even the Pier 1 Canadian website says so. “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.” It’s time to find those one-of-a-kind items online, or maybe the new LL Bean Canada location.
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.
So who sends cards anymore? With climate change and a world of digital messaging, this brand was bound to take a hit. Over the coming weeks, 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.
What teen girl Mom has not struggled with purchases from La Senza? And what teen girl hasn’t dreamt of getting their first fancy undergarments from this staple lingerie store? La Senza founded in Quebec in 1990 is set to close 17 more stores in Canada in 2020. They have been closing locations since 2013.
They are still selling online and continue to operate over one hundred stores in Canada. The latest news is the future of the entire chain is currently at risk. In the new year multiple suppliers filed asking to have La Senza be put on Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the US as they owe over $9 million to suppliers.
There are many other lingerie options on the market from casual to sexy with another Canadian iconic retailer, “La Vie En Rose” still operating across the country. Canadian iconic retailer, “La Vie En Rose” still operating across the country.
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.
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.
Bentley’s is a slightly different story. Although they have announced closures for 2020, an exact number is not available. 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 Canadian brand Rona, was purchased by Lowe’s back in May, 2016. 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. Again, the idea is to drive performance. You might not find your local store still available, but you can go online to find one nearby, or of course, order online.
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
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.
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.
Guess what? If you are a fan, they are still operating online.
Claire de Lune
Quebec-based home accessories and decor retailer Clair de lune will close 44 of its 70 stores in Quebec and Ontario as part of a restructuring effort. Claire de Lune was founded by the two Levy brothers in 1996 and launched their online presence in 2008. Today, online shopping is down with no information on whether consumers can purchase via their portal anytime soon.
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.
Another parent company filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy is closing Canadian locations.
Destination Maternity, the owner of Motherhood Maternity brand has announced that it will be closing some Canadian stores as the company restructures. In total, 13 Canadian locations slated to shut their doors. The Motherhood Maternity website promotes that they ship to Canada with no additional fees and charge in Canadian dollars.
This month Wow will shut several stores but continue operating 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.
Who doesn’t remember running to Zellers to pick up whatever it was you needed, or to have a quick cup of coffee at the Zellers restaurant with Mom. After opening their doors in Canada in 1928, the end of an era has finally happened.
The last two remaining Zellers locations closed this year. The Toronto and Ottawa locations shut their doors and closed up the Canadian brand in January 2020. The long closing saga started in 2011 with the sale to Target, and has finally come to an end.
MINISO Canada is the Canadian-based retailer of MINISO, a global retail brand, with 67 stores in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and the Northwest Territories. MINISO Canada is continuing to serve customers as usual at its stores.
As of July 2019 Miniso Canada had received protection from its creditors under an order from the Supreme court of British Columbia. Amid some controversy the retailer has stores open across the country and has made no further announcements of closures.
The Chinese company positions the brand as “Japanese Lifestyle” with products available from stuffed toys to furniture. They market the brand as high quality for a low price.
The stores are all franchised, so it will remain to be seen what stays open and what closes. Unfortunately, if you don’t find a storefront, this retailer does not sell online.
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.