The retail landscape in North America has undergone some major changes during the past few years. Increased competition from online sources like Amazon has caused previously unassailable giants to suffer and fold. The idea of the Canadian retail landscape without Eaton’s was unthinkable and now its longtime competitor Sears has also folded. The remaining Sears Canada outlets closed their doors for good this month.
When Zeller’s was bought out by Target a few years back, that suggested there was still a good fight to be waged against online stores. However, comically bad supply chain management sent Target Canada to an early grave leaving one with the impression that maybe the outcome is already set in stone.
The result of these retail closures has been tragic for employees, who if they wish to remain in this line of work have fewer and fewer opportunities. Mall owners have also been impacted because Sears stores typically occupied very large spaces. Some of these buildings were just starting to recover from the Target closure and now have another challenge ahead. While Walmart took over some of the empty Target stores, Sears outlets were more often mall cornerstones, rather than standalone establishments.
As the likelihood of attracting further large-scale tenants decreases, owners still have the option of converting larger stores into smaller spaces for multiple tenants. At the very least, it is highly unlikely that a single chain would take on all of the empty Sears locations. Even Target only ended up occupying about 60% of the Zeller’s locations it took over, deeming the rest to be either inappropriate for redevelopment or simply undesirable.
It’s clear that once the dust settles, the remaining traditional retailers must find a way to differentiate themselves. Standing out from the pack is now more important than ever.