Initial reaction reveals Canadians’ hatred of Target

Are Canadians upset that they won’t be able to shop at Target anymore?


Here’s a sample of reaction on the CBC website to news that Target will flee the country, laying off more than 17,000 people in the process.

Good riddance. I went into a Target in Ottawa once to have a look. I expected the U.S. experience….wider aisles etc. It was a former Zellers store and looked it.

All they had done was restock shelves, and stick up Target signage. The merchandise was crap. A terribly bad effort at retailing. Good competition is always welcome, but lousy operations get what they deserve.

I knew this place was doomed the minute I walked in. Lousy selection and lousy prices. They came into Canada thinking they could gouge us and now they run home with their tail between their legs… good riddings… but they shouldn’t get creditor protection. Their bad business model shouldn’t be held against Canadian suppliers and creditors

I’m reading a lot of “good riddance” comments. I rarely shopped at Target myself however two things come to mind. First, the employees affected by Target’s little Canadian experiment. I was affected when ex Sears CEO Doug Campbell came to Canada and sold off anything of value remaining with Sears (ie: Sears property at major locations including Head office in Toronto).

The money was sent back to US shareholders and then Doug Campbell sent the majority of Sears jobs to the Philippines. Once completed Doug hightailed it back to the US. It’s hard on the employees that are left out to look for work once again. My second thought in the article is that Target has applied for Creditor Protection.

If granted this, they will be allowed to skip out on paying Canadian companies they owe money to.Once again, a US retailer comes in, takes our money and runs. I hope this company is not allowed creditor protection and we do not end up paying for Target’s little Canadian experiment!

The store in North Bay had marginal stock, was more expensive than wall-mart, and you would find staff but they were found clinging together in a large group talking. It seemed like I was interrupting something when I asked someone for a far fetched request like “Do you carry 3 volt batteries?” Blank stares from 90 percent of them and then one would in an almost sigh say “Ya, they are over there” and then gesture to the store…..
I took the gesture as pointing to Wal-mart. The first and ONLY time I went into that place.

They came into Canada – an established Walmart country – sold the same items and charged MORE….dah…we are not stupid Target, if you wanted our business, offer us a better deal than Walmart. SIMPLE, you priced yourself out of our market.

Target tried to play Canadian consumers for fools. They thought if they were to just open up stores, people would show up. That isn’t how it works.

Target failed to stock their shelves properly, they failed to make their prices competitive (prices were often exactly the same as Walmart, and the items are actually stocked), they failed to get online shopping up and running, they failed to advertise properly (the ads I remember revolved around getting everyday items – things you could easily buy at a grocery store or pharmacy – places people frequent much more often than a department store), they failed to bring over some sought-after US exclusive items, and they failed to understand their demographic.

It’s just too bad so many people are going to lose their jobs over this.

Considering all of these completely newly renovated, yet empty buildings, perhaps another department store will be tempted to try their hands at the Canadian market. Will Kmart attempt a comeback?

In the US, Walmart is for the super poor, and Target is the classier version. What Target failed to recognize is that in Canada, people of all levels of income shop at Walmart, with little to no embarrassment, so Target really needed to compete head on with Walmart, which they failed to do.

Big ole’ Target, trying to get into the Canadian market and shoving American ideals down the throats of Canadians, typical….and without ears. We’re a little smarter than that I guess.

From day one, I wondered who they hired as professional marketing and merchandizing persons cause they seem to get everything wrong. On every level, the stores did not reflect the Canadian market, particularly in suburbia.

After they replaced the first CEO with a second CEO, you’d think this person might have picked up on this and changed their direction…more selection of useable products, more larger sizing of clothes for men and women, and more loss leaders to bring people in.

Target struggled the past 2 years in Canada and that’s when our economy was running pretty strong. Now, Target can probably see just like everyone else can see that Canada is heading for a sharp economic downturn with oil prices in the dumps and personal debt to income levels higher than they were in the US in 2006 before their crash.

If Target couldn’t make money when the Canadian economy was strong, they definitely won’t make money when the Canadian economy is in recession. If it wasn’t for the collapse in oil prices, Target probably would have tried to hack it out for another year. They see the writing on the wall for Canada and they’re making their exit.

This is a typical result for a US retailer that comes to the Canadian market assuming it’s the same as the US. Poor leadership, poor business plan equals poor results. They couldn’t even distinguish that there are notable shopping differences from West to East and even by individual Provinces for some commodities.

I’ve heard bogus reporting of supply issues from vendors and internal supply chain issues, wake up this is all poor planning and poor management.

I’ve been to Target once, too large a format, very similar to the previous store that couldn’t make it, Zellers.

Hopefully all cross border shoppers remember this when they buy in the USA.. don’t want to employ Canadians so don’t shop there.

People were expecting Target stores to be similar to Zellers, and when they found it wasn’t so they gave up and just went to Wal-Mart.

Well, an adventure costly for all involved, to discover that Canadians, despite the Harper Gang’s best efforts, aren’t Americans yet.

Like we didn’t see that one coming. They figured we are as gullible as the US consumer and will accept anything they do. They moved in to fast and opened way too many stores before they were ready. That is a recipe for disaster, just took them 1 1/2 years to figure that out. Their pricing was way through the roof, empty shelves and they couldn’t understand why we rejected them. Someone at the top made way too many mistakes and should be fired for what it cost the company.

  • Steve

    I don’t think Canadian’s got what a Target was in relationship to Walmart. If Target had gotten the distribution right and maybe a little better on the product mix, they may have survived. I never understood stocking eggs and milk at a mall location similar to Southdale mall.

    • One quote above is illustrative. It suggested that the roles of Walmart and Target in Canada are complete switched from what they are in the U.S.

  • John O.

    The Canadian expansion was initiated by the previous CEO and was poorly planned and executed. Logistics were an issue from the get-go. A friend is/was heavily involved in the Canadian expansion project at corporate level. Haven’t heard from him yet to see if he is still employed or not. :/

  • PpFt

    I currently live several hours’ drive north of Toronto where there are 2 Walmarts……………
    Our local Target was one of the later ones to open, and was built ground-up in the updated Target look with Starbucks, wide aisles and those round red balls things outside. It did feel like being back in MSP.
    I’ve shopped Target in Texas and on the Iron Range… Customer service is pretty local-regional.

    They bought into Canada when USD-CAD were at par and now CAD is 85 cents to the USD.
    At any rate, $TGT is +3.12% this morning.

  • Jack

    Again Americans assume the world is American and act as much. Canadians are a fiercely independent bunch – check out Quebec for example.

    The American model only works in America and not even there sometimes.

    • Joe

      Except most of the comments above lament how Target wasn’t great so they went to WalMart… an American company.

      • PpFt

        Agree with Joe. I really don’t see this as an “American Ideals Versus Canadian Ideals” situation.

  • Gary F

    To make matters worse, they tried to use existing buildings of an existing chain. They had to rethink layout, product mix, logistics, customer preferences. Their success has been plopping a new box in the ground and running with a set program. They are very good at that. They had to re-think everything, and it didn’t work.

  • Herbert

    Dear Target,

    In the winter, people probably want to buy gloves and not swimsuits.
    I used to get groceries from you, along with other stuff, because you had desired edibles. But as said edibles were continually discontinued, I went back to Cub. Years ago, we used to buy season-appropriate apparel too, until you started not stocking them in favor of what we wouldn’t need for 3 or more months. I didn’t feel it was my duty to predict what you’d have in stock ahead of time, so I stopped bothering.
    Last February, when told by an employee that you weren’t getting winter hats back in stock, I snarkily replied “because winter is over, right?” This was not her fault, of course, it was the fault of bad management.
    Obviously the Canadians would have none of it.
    If you do change, maybe we’ll come back.

    American Consumer

    • John

      Dear Target,

      In the early 1980s and before you had a full automotive department. I bought many sets of tires and batteries from you. It got me into your store. Your automotive is now one aisle with fuzzy dice, phone chargers and other things women and girls would expect to find. Walmart has a full automotive department. Not much for men in your store. The ratio of men to women in Target is about 1 to 4. 1 to 1 in Walmart.

  • kevinfromminneapolis

    Hey I was glad when Zellers stores stopped clogging up all my notifications. 😉

  • mplstransplant

    Zellers was not highly regarded in Canada, and that reputation did not ease when Target took over.

  • Jayen DeHaart

    I live in America but go to Quebec often. I went to the Targets in greater MTL this summer and right around the holidays. Yes, they were poorly stocked and except for the one in Laval, they did not feel like the Targets that I am used to shopping in. I liked the Atwater location because you could step right off the metro and shop. But other than that, I was surprised at how unlike Target most of the stores felt.

    I actually have never stepped foot in a Canadian Walmart because my first exposure to it has been here in the states. In the states the vast majority of people who shop and work there are on welfare, the stores are totally understaffed and always filthy. The only thing worse is Aldi (which I am surprised is not in Canada). One thing that is totally stupid- Walmart is an American company so all these people bitching about Target not being Canadian… just dumb. And Zellers kind of looked like some cheap copy of Target from the 1980’s. I guess Target should have bought some other chain whose colours weren’t red and white too.

  • tboom

    During most of the 80’s I worked in Target’s Information Systems Department. In my interview, my future manager made the statement, “Right now our main task as a department is to work on store stock issues, you know making sure customers aren’t greeted with empty shelves when they go in for advertised sale items. That and speed up the checkout process.” (Quote is as best I can remember from 35 years ago, it’s pretty close because it made a big impression on me at the time).

    Through the years Target’s store stock problem has “ebbed and flowed”. From the inside in the 1980’s it was more systemic than just IS, throughout the organization incentives were in place to minimize resources tied up in stock (contributing to both low stock and to carrying seasonal items early).

    1980’s distribution was likely child’s-play when compared to Target’s current distribution system. Now, try to roll out a complex distribution system country wide while at the same time incentivizing your employees to minimize stock in stores with no sales history.

    Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

  • Adela

    Lots of Canadians Don’t Like Walmart either! I personally don’t shop there much.

    Why anyone would prefer Waly-mart is beyond me. Sorry, I’ll stick with Target. (Specialty lines, nice housewares, and a better clientele.)

    Target needs to find a way to redeem themselves here….sign the online petition to go to CEO Target, and Major investors (some of who didn’t agree with this…)

    Help Save Target Canada! Send our message to them: (Save Target Canada.)