September 5, 2017

An online survey on the loop suggested that more than 80% of respondents had no intention of taking advantage of Boxing Day sales in 2013.  The question that has not been widely discussed in the media is how well Canadian retailers performed during the Christmas shopping season.  Statisticians have indicated that Christmas shopping accounts for more than 40% of the annual profits for retail outlets.

The famous English department store, Debenhams, has reported poor seasonal sales and its shares have dropped significantly.  Canadian media has speculated about the stability of American retailer Sears which has been struggling throughout 2013 and divesting itself of retail leases in order to maintain liquidity.

The retail industry has been under tremendous pressure with more and more consumers turning to online shopping.  But even so sales have not been spectacular.  Black Friday shopping was off from 2012 when adjusted for inflation.  Smaller local retailers have steadily lost market share to the large big-box stores for several years.  The future of main street retail is certainly not looking too bright for 2014.

Downtown streets everywhere in Ontario have more vacant store front space than we have ever seen.  Perhaps the shape of our cities will transform entirely reversing the trend of moving to the suburbs, which are now largely occupied by large corporate retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart.  Perhaps we will see the downtown shops renovated to become apartments or office space.

What did your shopping patterns look like during the 2013 Christmas retail season?  Did you spend more, the same or less that during previous years?  How would a decline in Canadian retail outlets impact you?