Battle of the department stores

Target Corp. hasn’t yet landed in Canada, but its pending arrival is already sending ripples through this country’s retail landscape. Department stores and big box stores are scrambling to step up their game in what’s about to become a much more competitive retail environment.

Shortly after the Target news broke last month, Walmart Canada announced it would open 40 new supercentre stores in Canada over the next year. This expansion will beef up the discount chain’s presence in this country just in time for Target’s arrival in 2013.

Sears Canada is also preparing to get more competitive, and particularly in the apparel department, which happens to be Target’s specialty. Sears is reportedly aiming to attract younger customers by broadening its selection of stylish fashions. The chain is also expanding one of its in-house labels, Attitude, to appeal to a wider range of shoppers.

The Bay, meanwhile, has already been on a quest to improve its apparel offerings for quite some time. Since 2008, when the retail chain hired fashionista and former Flare Magazine editor-in-chief Bonnie Brooks as president and CEO, it seems that the Bay has been trying to set itself apart from its competitors through higher end fashion offerings.

I suspect that the Bay’s strategy will help to limit the extent to which it’s affected by new competition from Target, which is specifically known for its lower priced fashions. But I’m sure it’s still bracing for some sort of impact.

Given how much of an impact Target is already having on the retail industry here, I’m curious to see what happens when it actually arrives. I think the new competition will be good for consumers, forcing all of these retailers to ensure they’re keeping their merchandise fresh and fashionable, and affordable in price.

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Filed under Department Stores & Big Boxes, Fashion

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