Canada's business magazine for traditional natural health retailers

3 minutes reading time (668 words)

Welcome Neighbour......Maybe?

So, another American retailer decided to set up shop in Canada. This time it is Nordstrom. Despite the fact that Canada's population is only about 10 per cent of the USA's, it seems to be an attractive proposition for American retailers to do business here in Canada. Sure, our economy seems to be in better shape than theirs, but even long before the North American economies soured, the Americans had a good retail presence in our country. So, why is it that they keep moving in?

So, another American retailer decided to set up shop in Canada. This time it is Nordstrom. Despite the fact that Canada's population is only about 10 per cent of the USA's, it seems to be an attractive proposition for American retailers to do business here in Canada. Sure, our economy seems to be in better shape than theirs, but even long before the North American economies soured, the Americans had a good retail presence in our country. So, why is it that they keep moving in?

I can make the answer a little complex by saying that the US markets are saturated, and there is little room for expansion. Competition is driving down the retail prices and as a result, the margins as well. Or I could tell the truth and say that they are so very good at what they are doing that nothing will stop them! The Canadian retail landscape, particularly in the densely populated, large urban areas, is saturated as well. Every time you look around, a new retail development is being built.

Take Nordstrom for example. They have 231 stores in 31 states, hardly "everywhere" in a country the size of the USA. Room enough to grow in their own country, I would say. They are also not your run of the mill discount store either. Nordstrom appeals to a fairly high end customer base and apparently they feel there is a market here in Canada.

Why did I say that the American retailers are so good at what they are doing? Well, remember when Walmart opened shop in Canada in 1994, the larger Canadian retailers woke up and decided that improvements were needed to combat this neighbour coming from the south. At the time, most Canadian retailers upgraded their stores, improved customer service and return policies, because they realized that what was then the status quo would not be acceptable much longer to the Canadian shopper. Canadian retailers studied and copied the successful formulas used by their neighbours south of the border.

American retailers moving into Canada is nothing new. Remember Sears? Sears Canada was formed as a joint venture with Simpsons (at the time it was called Simpsons-Sears) in 1952. SS Kresge department stores, which later changed its name to K-Mart, opened up shop in Canada in 1929. Woolco department stores arrived in Canada in the early sixties, as a spin-off of the Woolworth organization and countless others moved in without a lot of fanfare. The fast food industry in Canada is dominated by US owned operators.

What we see today is not much different than what we have seen for the last 50 plus years. Have we learned anything from our southern neighbours? Look at Zellers; no matter how hard they tried to look like Target, they just could not get it right. Sears Canada is a shadow of its' former success. Towers and Sayvette (remember those names) are long gone.

Actually, I believe Canadian retailers have learned over the years. The ones that paid attention are rock solid and will survive. The strongest survivors are the small independent retailers, who have learned to adapt and grow their business just because of the invasion from south of the border. In my opinion, the smaller, independent retailers are the retail back bone of the Canadian retail industry! •

Note: In my last article, I mentioned I would talk about "micro encapsulation," but because of some intellectual property issues, I will have to postpone that for now.

 

CNHR News Podcast

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News, Views and Happenings in the world of Canadian Natural Health.

Check out this month's podcast here

Your customers have spoken.  The numbers are convincing: Canada’s natural health retailers turn to CNHR for your new products.  A survey conducted in June 2020 shows retailers read the ads and Product Profiles, and react to them.  They order products they’ve seen in CNHR.  They look for your new products in CNHR.  Reach your customers via CNHR by print, video and/or podcast.  Various opportunities available to fit any budget. 

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New!  Product profile package

Retailers want to see more of your new products.  So, we’re making it easier for you and them. 

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For more information please contact:

Ellen Wheeler, Director of Sales    
ellen.wheeler@alive.com
604-295-9126