Friday, January 16, 2015

Surprise reactions, indifference greet Target Canada closures

A family arrives to shop at a Target store in Toronto on Thursday, January 15, 2015. CP
 Liam Casey The Canadian Press
Some Toronto area shoppers expressed surprise and dismay Thursday upon hearing that department store chain Target was shutting all its stores in Canada, but others said the writing was on the wall.

At one quiet east-end store, some said the pending closure seemed premature given the company’s entry into the Canadian market less than two years ago.

“It’s unfortunate. They really haven’t even given it a chance yet,” Lisa Kirch said. “I don’t know where anybody is supposed to go to shop.”

Kirch said she had only recently moved all her prescriptions to the store and would now have to transfer them elsewhere.

The U.S.-based retail giant — which stormed into Canada in 2013, quickly opening 133 stores and employing nearly 18,000 people — said it was ending its short dalliance in Canada after failing to become viable.

The stores came under fire early on for their bare shelves and its CEO conceded the company had struggled to keep consumers coming through the doors.

“I did go in there once when they first opened and found them to be a little bit pricey for the merchandise you were getting, so I never, ever went back,” Lynn Brough said at a nearby Walmart that seemed much busier than the Target.

Back at the east-end store, there were empty shelves and clearance items abounded. But it also looked much like any other day at Target.

Some customers, however, said their experience shopping at Target had been positive and said they were disappointed.

“It’s one of the nicer stores around,” said Rick Mitchell, who was out shopping with his wife.

“I like the people, the staffing. I’m really surprised they closed all of them.”

Word of the decision to shut the Canadian stores caught employees off guard. One said he found out about the closure through the media.

The company would not allow employees to be interviewed, according to the store’s general manager, who also wouldn’t speak on the record.

Shoppers, however, were less reticent in offering an opinion.

Danielle McCandless said she liked Target: The one-stop shopping made it easier and she could tote her 14-month-old daughter around in a cart, grab a coffee, get groceries, supplies, and the odd clothing item.

“I’m not really surprised, because the stores seemed really not that busy,” McCandless said of the pending shuttering.

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