Retail Retrospective: Looking Back at All the Canadian Retail News of 2018

As 2018 comes to a close, we can’t help but look back over the past year at all that has happened in Canadian retail.

News like the

  1. Cannabis was legalized.

In October of 2018, cannabis was officially legalized across Ontario, changing the scope of pharmaceutical retail as we know it.

In the next year, we may see an increased amount of cannabis products and related paraphernalia.

  1. Store closings.

In the U.S., both Claire’s and Toys ‘R’ Us declared bankruptcy in March of 2018.

Town Shoes also announced they will be closing the brand and all 38 stores in Canada by January 2019.

In November, Jean Machine announced it will be closing all of its Canadian locations. It had been under bankruptcy protection since January.

  1. Store openings.

As some retailers shuttered their doors, others opened theirs.

Nordstrom Rack, Levis Flagship, Chloé, ASICS, Sport Chek Kids, Casper, William Ashley, and more all opened stores in Canada.

Many international retailers entered Canada — enough to potentially tie or set a new record.

  1. Store expansions.

Some brands planned to extend their reach in 2018. These include:

  • Miniso announced plans to add 500 stores in Canada over the next three years.
  • Uniqlo Canada added four new locations in the fall of 2018.
  • Hudson’s Bay opened its first new store in Canada in 15 years in Montreal.
  • Canada Goose announced three new stores in North America — two in Canada and one in the United States.
  1. Grocery delivery.

2018 saw the start of on-demand grocery delivery and expansion of click-and-collect services.

In 2018, nearly all major grocers added grocery delivery services to their offerings, including Costco Canada.

Walmart Canada announced plans to offer one-hour delivery through a partnership with InstaCart.

Loblaw Companies Limited planned to expand its pick-up services to 500 more locations in 2018.

Sobeys announced a partnership with Ocado Group.

  1. Grocery takeovers.

Empire Co., the owner of Sobeys, acquired Ontario-based grocer Farm Boy.

  1. Canadian grocery sales stopped growing — the start of a grocery “bloodbath”?

“The bloodbath is here,” wrote Sylvain Charlebois, the dean of the faculty of management at Dalhousie University and a prominent expert on food retail, in an email to media in July of 2018.

The “bloodbath” in question was a drop in sales at Canadian grocers — enough to potentially put thousands out of work and close dozens of stores.

According to Statistics Canada, sales at supermarkets and grocery stores dropped 3.1% in May of 2018, the fourth decline in the past five months.

  1. Hardware technology.

In 2018, the hardware industry began adding new retail technology.

Home Depot is making an $11.1 billion investment in technology by the end of 2020 to upgrade its e-commerce capabilities, adding up to 170 distribution facilities, and hiring 1,000 technology professionals.

Medavail’s self-service pharmacy opened kiosks across Canada.

Some retailers, like Lowe’s and IKEA, added augmented reality to their mobile apps, allowing users to view what furniture will look like in their home before they buy.

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