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Nordstrom announced this week it is closing all Canadian locations, leaving roughly 2,330 people without jobs and a tremendous amount of empty retail space.
“We entered Canada in 2014 with a plan to build and sustain a long-term business there,” said the company in a statement. “Despite our best efforts, we do not see a realistic path to profitability for the Canadian business.”
Since opening its doors in the north, the company has lost money in every year of operation. As a result the company recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, also known as the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, which allows for the orderly winding down of a business.
Jaylin Evans is a fourth-year creative industries student at TMU and one of the thousands of Nordstrom employees who will lose their job in the coming weeks.
“The way that I heard that it was closing was actually through 6ixBuzz, which is probably the worst way to find out that you’re going to be unemployed,” said Evans.
“We don’t know when they’re gonna start handing out those official ‘you’ve been laid off papers’, but we’re expecting it and just don’t know when it’s actually gonna happen.”
Evans, who is just weeks away from graduating says she still reflects fondly on her time with the company despite the abrupt ending, but is left feeling uncertain and anxious about what comes next.
“I don’t know if I can find another part-time job that’s going to be as flexible and as understanding as my managers were at Nordstrom, especially as a student,” said Evans.
According to a Financial Post article, the recent exodus of companies such as Target and now Nordstrom may suggest that American chains struggle to succeed in the Canadian market. However, Dr. Joseph Aversa, an assistant retail management professor at TMU, does not agree.
“To say that U.S. companies can’t find success here is just not true. Walmart is American, Home Depot, Amazon, the list goes on and on,” said Aversa.
“I think it’s less to do with the company being American and more to do with the retail category that they’re doing business in. I wasn’t surprised to see them close, because the department store category that Nordstrom falls under has long experienced hardships.”
There is now the question of what stores will fill the retail space left behind. Nordstrom stores in Canada range in size from around 40,000 square feet to larger stores at over 220,000 square feet, an amount of retail space that could be difficult to fill even for large shopping centers such as the CF Toronto Eaton Centre.
“The truth is, the likelihood of them finding one retailer to occupy that space is probably not likely,” said Aversa.
“What you’re going to find is those spaces will probably be divided up and parsed out to accommodate other types of service or retail. We’re starting to see gyms in malls, which in the 90s was like a kiss of death, you never wanted those types of services in malls.”