Why is your brand so popular?
Canada is still reeling from the loss of the Great Recession and, with the government looking to ramp up its fiscal position and a sluggish economy, a lot of the new arrivals are coming in with their own set of concerns.
The brand is an obvious target, as are the stores themselves.
“We’ve had a lot more people coming into our store, but it’s the brand itself that is the issue,” says Lisa Stewart, the executive director of the Canadian Association of Retail Consultants.
She says the company that has long dominated the department store market is also struggling with the new influx of shoppers.
“We are seeing a lot people that are buying more items, more items with more colours and a lot fewer things that they were buying before,” she says.
“They’re buying more stuff.
That’s really what we are seeing.”
The retailer’s problem is compounded by a recent spate of bad news for the brand.
Last month, the Canadian Retail Federation reported that the share price of the national department store chain has fallen more than 10 per cent since April and that sales of department store merchandise were down 2.2 per cent in the second quarter from the previous quarter.
The biggest loser was the Canadian Tire chain, which saw sales fall 2.6 per cent last month from a year earlier.
At the same time, sales of specialty department store brands like Sears, Wal-Mart and TJ Maxx are surging.
And in the first quarter, the retail giant posted an increase in revenue of more than $7 billion compared to the same period last year.
A lot of retailers are seeing sales growth, but the biggest casualty for the sector is the brand, which has been a key component of Canadian shopping for more than 100 years.
As a result, the retailers are asking customers to rethink what they are buying, say some of the industry analysts.
While they are not the only ones, they are starting to notice that their stores are starting more often to have more merchandise, they say.
In the end, the brands that are in the driver’s seat are the ones that have the best merchandising, say retail experts.
Many Canadians will tell you they do not buy from a brand when they are trying to shop for a home or a car, say experts.
And there are those who are just getting used to the fact that they are paying more for the product.
“If you are not buying from the brand and you are going to the department stores, you should be,” says Stewart.
There is also a growing perception among many Canadians that it is not a good idea to purchase more than they need, says Stewart, because many stores are selling their merchandise to others who are not going to buy it, either.
And many are finding that the cost of goods is also becoming more important, she says, because the number of items they have to buy is now outstripping the amount they can sell.
Some of the retailers that have started to see an uptick in sales are big box stores like Wal-Marts, Target, Best Buy and even Costco, which have a huge presence in the country.
The problem is that these stores are being forced to make up the difference when it comes to the cost they charge their customers, says Craig Hulme, a senior vice president at Hulmes International.
Retailers can’t do what they used to do, but they have become more sophisticated at being more efficient, he says.
They are not just trying to be more efficient.
They are trying not to do the same thing they used, and that is to sell more products, more stuff and then they are able to make a little more money.
Hulme says the number one challenge retailers are having is keeping customers.
That is not just the cost but also the cost to the business.
For example, a few years ago, a company like Staples would have been able to bring in a lot less money by selling more stuff, but now they have been cutting prices and selling fewer items.
With the arrival of the latest generation of big box store chains, there is a lot that retailers can do to better serve their customers.
The best thing they can do is focus on the brands they have and the products they have, said Hulman.
Even if you are a regular shopper, you can make sure that the products you buy are going towards the best quality, says Hulle.
We know that our customers are going out to buy a lot, so we have to be very careful about what we sell, and what we say.
There are a lot good things that we can do, he said.
You might be surprised at what your friends, family and colleagues think.
If you have a problem with your store, call 1-866-88-STORE and we’ll be happy to help you find the right solution, said Stewart.