Home decor chain Pier 1, Carlton Cards and Forever 21 are simply the latest in a growing list of retailers closing their doors in Canada or filing for bankruptcy.
And several analysts told CTVNews.ca the underlying issue is that these chains haven’t kept up with changes in shoppers who have shifted online shopping.
Doug Stephens, founder of consulting agency Retail Prophet, said people are looking for an experience when they go to any type of business – bricks and mortar ones or otherwise.
“You have to be able to promise consumers one of two things: you’re either going to promise them time well-saved or time well-spent,” he told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview.
Stephens argued shoppers can save time in online stores such as Amazon, while more innovative successful stores, such as Nordstrom, go the other route and give shoppers an experience. But stores that are closing are offering neither of those things, he said.
“Often times what we find is that these are not brands that have necessarily carved a distinct … piece of the market,” he said. “They’ve been sort of left to languish in the middle of the market.”
Here is a list of some of the major chains in Canada closing all their doors, shuttering their locations or that have been hit by bankruptcy in the past two years:
On Feb. 17, the home decor chain Pier 1 announced it was closing all of its stores in Canada, as the retailer began bankruptcy proceedings in the United States.
In January, the company announced it was closing up to 450 of its 942 stores in Canada and the U.S. At the time, they said this was “in order to better align its business with the current operating environment.”
PAPYRUS AND CARLTON CARDS
On Jan. 22, the owner of greeting card retailers including Carlton Cards and Papyrus announced it was closing all of its stores in North America, including 76 Canadian locations. The Carlton Cards and Papyrus online stores will remain open.
On the same day, the owner of apparel store Bench’s Canadian operations confirmed to BNN that all 24 locations would be closed. The company was founded in the U.K. in 1989 and it has changed hands multiple times before it was acquired by U.S. restructurer Gordon Brothers.
TEN THOUSAND VILLAGES CANADA
On Jan. 21, fair-trade retailer Ten Thousand Villages announced its plans to shutter many of its stores. The closures include all Ontario stores except for one each in the Ontario towns of Port Colborne and Cobourg.
U.S.-based audio equipment retailer Bose will reportedly shutter all of its remaining Canadian stores, as part of the chain’s closure of 119 locations around the world, according to online publication Retail Insider reported in early January. This follows a handful of Bose’s other standalone store closures in Canada.
On January 14, the head of Kitchener, Ont.-based retailer Things Engraved announced plans to shut all of its 73 stores after terminating its entire workforce. CEO Shawn Black told CTVNews.ca the company had been unprofitable for several years and couldn’t compete with online retailers such as Amazon.
LINKS OF LONDON
In January 2020, Retail Insider also reported the once-popular jeweller Links Of London was planning on closing all five of its Canadian stores in the coming year. This followed earlier news in October that the chain was liquidating its American and U.K. locations.
The Montreal-based luggage and bag retailer is reportedly shuttering 88 stores in Canada and cut 422 jobs, several outlets reported in December 2019. The company currently has 251 stores in Canada and the closures of the chain’s less-profitable luggage stores were first announced in November 2019, BNNBloomberg reported.
In November 2019, the home renovations retailer Lowe’s announced it would close 34 “underperforming” stores across six provinces, CTV News reported. The closures add to the shuttering of 31 Canadian Lowe’s and Rona locations, including 27 stores and four other facilities, announced in November 2018.
And also in November, the Montreal-based home décor retailer Bouclair filed notices to make a proposal under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. Across Canada, 29 of the chain’s 60 locations will close.
At the end of last summer, Los Angeles-based clothing retailer Forever 21 announced it would be closing all 44 of the Canadian locations and leaving the country altogether, CTV News reported.
Once a giant in the Canadian retail landscape, Zellers said its last two remaining locations in Toronto and Ottawa are slated to close early in 2020, CTV News Ottawa reported in September. At its peak, it had 350 stores across Canada with half a billion dollars in sales annually.
In the fall of 2019, maternity retailer Destination Maternity, which owns Motherhood Maternity, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. And after it was acquired by Marquee Brands LLC., it was announced that all stores across North America, including 29 Motherhood Maternity stores in Canada would close.
Back in March, the San Francisco-based fashion retailer announced it was shuttering almost half of its brand locations across the world over the next two years. This follows waves of other store closures in the past three years.
Gap didn’t disclose how many of its 230 upcoming North America store closures would be in Canada, The Canadian Press reported.
In Feb. 2019, Canadian retailer Hudson’s Bay announced it would be closing all Home Outfitters locations — including 37 stores across Canada.
Children’s retailer Gymboree filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for the second time in January 2019, with the company announcing that it would be shuttering all its locations in Canada and the U,S.
With files from CTVNews.ca writers Ryan Flanagan, Graham Slaughter, Solarina Ho and The Canadian Press
Coronavirus: 3M says Canada will continue receiving N95 masks following U.S. deal – Global News
U.S. health care supply company 3M says Canada will continue to receive its N95 masks following an agreement the company made with the United States.
Speaking during his daily COVID-19 response briefing on Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that they had made a deal with Minnesota-based 3M to produce 166.5 million face masks for its health-care workers.
A press statement from 3M released after Trump’s announcement confirmed that both Canada and Latin America would continue to receive respirators.
Coronavirus outbreak: Trump says deal reached with 3M for 55.5 million face masks per month
“3M will import 166.5 million respirators over the next three months primarily from its manufacturing facility in China, starting in April,” read press release.
“The Administration is committed to working to address and remove export and regulatory restrictions to enable this plan. The plan will also enable 3M to continue sending U.S. produced respirators to Canada and Latin America, where 3M is the primary source of supply.”
Coronavirus: Ontario struggles to get masks from U.S.
The announcement comes on the heels of several disputes between Canada and the United States over their supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Last week, 3M released a statement in response to a Trump administration order to stop exporting N95 respirators to Canada and Latin America.
And earlier on Monday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said that around three to four million medical masks ordered from 3M were blocked at the border on Sunday. Ford later clarified that 500,000 of those masks were now being released to Ontario.
In a tweet Monday night, Ford responded to 3M’s announcement to continue sending masks across the border.
“I am very pleased that a resolution has been reached between 3M and the U.S. administration. I want to thank 3M and officials on both sides of the border for their support to ensure Canada’s continued access to vital PPE,” read his tweet.
“We are stronger together.”
Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau says they expect equipment shipments from U.S. to be delivered
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declined to confirm on Monday whether the shipment to Ontario was blocked, instead saying that Canadian officials were in talks with the U.S. over the situation.
“We are working very closely with all provinces and monitoring the levels of personal protective equipment and the challenges they’re facing,” said Trudeau while speaking to reporters outside of Rideau Cottage in Ottawa.
“We continue to have productive and positive conversations with the United States, emphasizing for them that health-care supplies and workers across the border are very much a two-way street.”
During his COVID-19 briefing on Monday, Trump said that the deal would end the “3M saga” happily.
“Because of my actions under the DPA, I can also announce today that we’ve reached an agreement with — a very amicable agreement — with 3M for the delivery of an additional 55.5 million high-quality face masks each month,” Trump said.
“So that we’re going to be getting over the next couple of months 166.5 million masks for our frontline health-care workers, so the 3M saga ends very happily.”
— With files from Amanda Connolly
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Coronavirus: Canadians should expect weeks or months of social distancing, Trudeau says – Global News
Some provinces and health officials saw glimmers of hope in the country’s COVID-19 numbers on Monday, even as the prime minister warned that Canadians shouldn’t expect life to return to normal any time soon.
Speaking in Ottawa, Justin Trudeau said officials will have a better idea of how long the crisis will last once models and predictions are developed, but success will depend on how fully Canadians practise distancing habits.
“To stay at home, to continue this period of isolation and distance is the best way to get out as quickly as possible, but certainly it will be a case of several weeks, perhaps several months,” the prime minister said in his daily update from Ottawa.
Live updates: Coronavirus in Canada
New infections and deaths continued to be reported across the country Monday, with 16,500 total cases and 321 deaths reported by 3 p.m.
Dr. Theresa Tam, the country’s top public health officer said she was especially concerned with recent outbreaks in hospitals and long-term care homes, which have been reported in several provinces.
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Among the worst of those outbreaks is the Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon, Ont., where three more residents died on Sunday, bringing the total number of COVID-19 deaths at the facility to 26.
Tam said that while older people are at a higher risk for complications, people in their 20s have also died, and nobody should consider themselves immune.
But Tam also said there was reason to be optimistic that distancing efforts were working.
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She said the case of British Columbia, which has seen its number of new cases decline in the past week, was a reason to believe that collective action could work to slow the pandemic.
“As Canadians, we may not outwardly demonstrate our pride, but our hearts are full of it and we are determined people,” she said. “When someone says flatten the curve, we say, ‘We’ll plank it.”’
Tam also updated guidelines on wearing non-medical masks, amid what she said was increasing evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted by infected people who have not started to show symptoms or who never fall sick.
As a result, public health authorities have concluded that simple cloth masks can help prevent the wearer from spreading the virus to others in places where physical distancing is difficult, she said.
She said masks worn this way have not been proven to protect the people wearing them, and they don’t exempt wearers from other measures they should take against COVID-19, including physical distancing and regular handwashing.
While deaths rose by 13 in Ontario and by 27 in Quebec, officials in both provinces also saw reasons for optimism.
Ontario reported 309 new COVID-19 cases Monday, for a total of 4,347 cases, including 132 deaths and 1,624 patients who have recovered.
The total number of cases reported Monday represented a 7.7 per cent increase over the previous day’s total — a lower percentage increase than in previous days.
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In Quebec, Premier Francois Legault said there was “light at the end of the tunnel,” despite 27 new deaths and a total case count that rose to over 8,500.
While the province recorded 636 new cases, Legault noted that the numbers appeared to be stabilizing, and the total number of hospitalizations had increased by only eight over the day before.
“If we can have this for a few days, that would mean we are approaching the peak,” he told reporters in Quebec City, regarding the rate of infection in the province. “I don’t want to speculate, but it’s just, the numbers are encouraging today.”
The leaders all stressed that now is not the time to back off on physical distancing measures, including staying home as much as possible.
Social distancing enforcement
Trudeau has himself been working from home since his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, tested positive for COVID-19 on March 13.
He said that while he expects to return to the office in the days to come, he will mainly keep working from home because “that’s what we ask of everyone.”
Meanwhile, Trudeau said more than 300,000 people successfully applied for emergency financial aid in the first few hours after the federal government opened the process on Monday. The benefit offers $500 weekly payments for workers who have lost their income due to the pandemic.
The prime minister suggested the 16-week program would be expanded to offer help for people whose hours have been reduced but not eliminated, and he promised help for those who earn less than the benefit provides.
© 2020 The Canadian Press
Canadians applying for emergency benefit concerned for what comes next – Global News
Hundreds of thousands of Canadians who have lost their income due to COVID-19 are hoping to qualify for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), a monthly stipend of $2,000 that will last up to four months.
Within hours of the federal government accepting applications on Monday, more than 3.1 million people have successfully applied, according to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). The Canadian Revenue Agency is processing around 1000 applications per minute, the PMO told Global News.
He addressed criticism surrounding the benefit, as it currently isn’t available for gig workers, volunteer firefighters and other professions like contractors who work less than 10 hours per week.
University and college students are also part of multiple groups “falling between the cracks,” Trudeau said.
“If you are working reduced hours, down to 10 hours a week or less, we will soon announce how you will benefit from the CERB,” he said.
“We’ll also have more to say for those who are working, but making less than they would with the benefit.”
Those “fine tunings” will come in the next few days, explained Trudeau. The wage benefit is expected to cost the government $24 billion.
Global News spoke to several Canadians who have applied to CERB or are planning to apply to CERB about whether the benefit meets their needs. Many are relieved to have submitted an application, but are hesitant to feel at ease when unemployment holds many unknowns.
‘Never been laid off from a job before’
A week ago Melina Morry of Toronto was employed and working as a fashion copywriter for Harry Rosen. She and around 20 others from her e-commerce team were temporarily laid off due to COVID-19.
Harry Rosen seemed to be doing well due to an uptick in online shopping, so Morry, 28, and others were shocked when they were told they no longer had a job.
“They said it’s temporary but they don’t have any idea when things may resume to normal,” she said. “But I’ve never been laid off from a job before. I felt really disappointed at first and a bit confused.
“I kind of just thought my job would be secure through all of this. But it just goes to show that you don’t really know what’s going to happen.”
Morry already applied for employment insurance last week, which will now automatically be processed for CERB.
While she says it’s reassuring to know she isn’t alone in her predicament — around 2.7 million Canadians have been laid off so far due to COVID-19, according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives — she’s concerned due to uncertainty about her future, she said.
“The $2,000 a month is enough for me to pay my living expenses, so that’s a huge relief,” she said.
“The only thing that concerns me is that they say this benefit is going to be for the next four months… so I’m wondering how am I going to be supplemented if I’m still not able to find a job?”
Her employer said she and others will know the status of their temporary layoff by December, leaving months in between where she will have missing income when the benefit runs out, she said.
New CERB to offer Canadians more money than EI
Currently, she is trying to view the situation as one that’s out of her control and will continue to check government updates if she still requires financial assistance past the four-month window, she said.
“I think it’s a good time to really just re-evaluate what you want to do with your life,” she said. “Hopefully things will go back to normal eventually.”
Confusion, unanswered questions around the application process
Tara Maslowsky, 26, has already been laid off for three weeks due to COVID-19, after the massage therapy clinic she worked at closed.
Her employer formally dismissed her and other staff members so they would be able to apply for employment insurance, said Maslowsky, who lives in Winnipeg.
At first, she says she was confused as to whether she was supposed to apply for unemployment insurance or whether she should wait until the CERB opens. In the last week, attempting to speak to someone who can help her with questions has been difficult, she said.
“I’m very stressed, I feel like I’m getting myself worked up about it. Last week I set my alarm to get through to Service Canada, literally all day. That was almost 500 calls to speak to somebody,” she said. “But information is changing constantly.”
Now, she says, she understands her employment insurance claim will migrate over to CERB. But because of fears about paying her bills living without her own income, the ability to connect with the government more directly would be helpful, she explained.
“I just feel that there’s so many questions that people want answers to. Unfortunately you just have to wait it out, which is stressful in itself,” she said.
While she waits for her first payment, connecting to other Canadians on social media who are going through a similar scenario now has been a source of comfort, said Maslowsky.
“We’re all just trying to help each other…everybody’s coming together and trying to help and give each other as much information as they can,” she said.
Losing income, while sick
Allyson Paynter, 50, hasn’t been dismissed from her job as a legal administrative assistant in Edmonton. But she has exhibited symptoms of COVID-19 and has had to stay home in quarantine as a result, going on a temporary leave that has caused a loss of income, she said.
Having her CERB application be approved today was a source of relief, as she was concerned she wouldn’t be able to pay her bills while she recovers.
“It’s really easing my worry, and I’m almost positive that my worry has been affecting my symptoms,” she said.
When she first spoke to Alberta Health Link, the health hotline in the province, they told her it may not be worth it to test her currently and to go to the hospital if her symptoms get worse, she said.
“Health-wise I’m not doing great. This is not the flu where you rest for a couple of days and then you feel better. This is much more serious, my chest really hurts. The symptoms are just really harsh,” she said.
Receiving the benefit would allow her to relax more while she is in quarantine, she said. Her landlord has already waived April’s rent, but she is concerned about paying her expenses next month.
“It’s been incredibly challenging dealing with my current health condition and uncertainty about my finances,” she said.
Applying to the CERB was “very easy” because Paynter says she looked up the process beforehand and set her alarm for right when the applications opened.
She said she found the process much more user-friendly than the Alberta finance relief benefit, which is a one-time payment of $1,142.
“It took me less than a minute and my approval was automatic, which I must say has taken a lot of pressure off,” she said.
“I was surprised. I had been trying to apply to the Alberta one-time relief payment…and I haven’t been able to get through on that website.”
‘Very few people that are doing well’
Making sense of whether he qualifies for CERB has been “very confusing” for 32-year-old Mohammed Asaduallah from Toronto.
Asaduallah is the founder of start-up Benji, which helps freelancers by finding tax write-offs for them. As his clients are losing their source of income as well, they have to temporarily shut down, he explained.
This has resulted in a complete loss of income for himself, he said.
Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau says 240,000 people applied for emergency benefit
“I’ve been calling the CRA saying ‘hey do I qualify, how does this work’?” he said. CERB’s guidelines state that if you voluntarily stop working, you don’t qualify for the benefit — which technically he has done by closing Benji for now, he said.
“It’s been very confusing to make sense of it,” he said. “I want to make sure I’m doing things in a compliant way and I’m not doing anything that is wrong or illegal.”
When Asaduallah applied for the benefit this morning, he said it only took a few minutes for him to complete the application.
It was so fast, it was almost “scary,” he said — as he’s used to more red tape when navigating government applications and websites, he explained.
“I was just gobsmacked, that was so fast…but for me I’m relieved that there’s funding available as quickly as it is,” he said. He says he feels lucky he’s in a group that is able to qualify for CERB, when others aren’t.
Beyond the four-month period, Asaduallah says he’s also worried for himself and other unemployed Canadians as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the country.
“There are very few people that are doing well and have jobs…many other Canadians don’t have the same privilege at the moment,” he said.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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