Posted by CANbike on Thu, 19 Feb 2015

Target Canada Closing - Guelph Verdict

Target Canada announced on January 15, 2015 that it was exiting Canada and closing all stores. Their liquidation started on Thursday February 5 with discounts ranging from 5-30%

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On February 19, discounts increased by an incremental amount. Signs indicated everything as 20-40%, though “limited exceptions may apply”. Limited was an understatement as many item were still only 10% while most items remained at 20% off. Movies and music were 40% off; however, cheaper prices can regularly be found elsewhere.

Top 10 Target Canada Issues

Target Canada Guelph opened with lots of enthusiasms and fanfare. Initial thoughts and review were posted, “Retailer: Target (Guelph)”. Since then Target Canada was occasionally visited.

The following were the top ten issues with Target Canada.

1: Old stale Starbucks Coffee smell permeated throughout the store

When the stores first opened there was a pleasant smell of fresh coffee and food. However, it quickly permeated throughout the entire store due to poor ventilation. The smell then turned into an old stale coffee odor that spread to all parts of the store. It wasn’t until late 2014 that the issue was corrected.

2: High prices

Target Canada was expensive and prices kept increasing. They were often 20% or more expensive than other local stores. Even with the current liquidation prices, they were still more expensive.

3. Empty shelves

Inventory issues were always a problem since Target Canada first opened. It was inconvenient to go there and find items out of stock. May as well shop elsewhere.

As for sale items and clearance items. They were even harder to acquire due to low stock or inventory.

4. Self Checkout Issues

The self checkout machines were giving problems.

  • They often failed to print a receipt, and an attendant was required
  • To use a Target coupon, an attendant was required
  • The machines often locked out or froze, and an attendant was required
  • Some scanned items needed approval of an attendant

5. Lack of cashiers

Often times, there was only one cashier. Lines were long and slow.

6. High Staff Turnover Ratio

Target opened with friendly employees and staff members. However, that slowly changed. Initially, there were some familiar faces and cashiers to chat with. They left for whatever reason, along with their knowledge and expertise.

The high turnover ratio then began as employees and cashiers kept on leaving, while new trainees had to take their place.

7. Target Blames Canada

On August 21 and November 21, Target blamed Canada in it’s financial quarterly reports. It was the start of a rocky relation.

Canadians welcomed Target with warm open arms, but were under no obligation to shop at Target Canada.

8. False Promises

Target Canada made many promises such as a more pleasant shopping experience, Target US experience in Canada, exclusive items from across the border, price matching, etc. Unfortunately, they did not deliver on many promises or were too late to deliver them (i.e. price matching policy).

9. No Canadian Online Retail Presence

There was a website at with location details and weekly flyers. That was it. Disappointingly, though, there was no online shopping epxerience at Target Canada. There was no catalog to browse, no way to check inventory status, no online ordering system, and no in-store pickup option.

Sears Canada, Walmart Canada, Giant Tiger, and Canadian Tire had a much better and more pleasant online presence than Target Canada.

10. Zellers Rebranded

They bought over many of Zellers old leases. Alas, the red look and location were the same as old.

Often times, it still felt like Zellers. New look, new name, but the same old store.

Target Canada Liquidation (Feb 19, 2015)

Liquidation signs greeted patrons at the entrance of Target Guelph

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Marketing was in full force everywhere but bargains were sparse due to inflated prices

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Goodbye Target Canada!

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Final Verdict: Fail

Target Canada opened with a number of hiccups. However, many of them were corrected and things seemed to be taking off in 2014. It was starting to become a decent place to shop, especially for clearance deals.

However, on January 15, 2015 Target announced it was abandoning Canada after less than two years since entering the country. Many mistakes were made but giving up was the worst of them. As a result, Target Canada is a disappointing failure.

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