‘O, Canada’ Becoming More Retailers’ Growth Anthem

Go North, established retailer!


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Terry J Alcorn | iStock Exclusive | Getty Images
Canadian flag

is the latest in a string of retailers to announce Canadian expansion plans as companies seek to reach the country’s consumers who exhibit less enthusiasm for ecommerce than their American counterparts.

Due to fewer existing chains and less competition from online shopping, the country represents "a land of retail opportunity," according to a new report from WSL/Strategic Retail, a retail consulting firm.

“As U.S. companies struggle with sales and profit growth in a stalled global economy, and as the Internet continues to steal share of shoppers from the stores, the opportunity to expand into Canada has become very appealing,” said Wendy Liebmann, WSL/Strategic Retail's CEO, in a release.


Nordstrom’s expansion plans include a store in Calgary by fall 2014, which will be joined by subsequent stores in Ottawa, Vancouver and Toronto. Three of these locations are currently being occupied by Sears, which said in May that it would spin off a large part of its stake in its floundering Canadian unit .

Nordstrom joins several other retailers, ranging from a mass merchandiser to a high-end women's retailer, in planning its first foray into Canada. ( Read more: J. Crew CEO Sees Too Many Retailers in Industry )

Beginning in 2013, Target plans to enter the Canadian market too in Quebec with a slated expansion of 125 to 135 stores. Women’s clothing chains Ann Taylor and Fifth & Pacific'sKate Spade also plan to open stores by the fall.

“While there is significant opportunity, we have also found important differences in the way Canadians think and shop, versus Americans, which will require U.S. retailers to consider new strategies and approaches when entering this market,” said Candace Corlett, president of WSL/Strategic Retail, in a release.

According to the firm’s survey findings, Canadians do not seem to be as interested in scouting out deals or shopping online in contrast to the enthusiasm that Americans show for scoring discounts.

Only half of Canadian women said they shopped online, compared to 75 percent of American women who reported that they did. A smaller percentage of Canadian women also reported using mobile apps and visiting retailer and manufacturing websites.

Another potential headwind for retailers set on Canadian expansion will likely be a low level of shopping enthusiasm.

When asked what they would do with some extra cash, only 15 percent envisioned going shopping while a third would pay down credit-card debt and a fourth of respondents would save or invest the surplus money.

-By Katie Little, CNBC News Associate

Questions? Comments? Email us atconsumernation@cnbc.com . Follow Katie Little on Twitter @katie_little_ .