Always looking to increase sales, more retailers are turning their attention north—to less skittish Canadian consumers who don't have as many shopping choices.
Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, sees Canada as a way for retailers to squeak out more growth in a tough environment.
"In this retail economy, anywhere you can get growth, you go," she said. "Every sliver counts. Ten years ago, there was a business mindset that said that Canada was small and perhaps not worth the investment."
Both luxury goods retailers as well as discounters, including Target and Wal-Mart, are among those planning to step up their presence in the country, whose increasing urbanization makes it a more lucrative target.
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That was underscored this week when Canadian retailer Hudson's Bay announced plans to buy luxury retailer Saks for $2.4 billion, a move aimed at beefing up its presence in both Canada and the United States. Hudson's Bay CEO said Saks' expansion into Canada could occur quickly, with up to seven department stores and 25 Off Fifth outlets.
"For North American retailers, it's easier to look over the fence at their neighbor versus looking across the pond for growth," said Carman Allison, Nielsen's director of shopper and industry insights. "With Canadians being exposed to media and advertising, brand awareness already exists for a number of key retailers and brands before they even enter the new market."