All of Nordstrom Rack’s Canadian stores shut at the end of day on Sunday, marking the end for the chain that saw seven of the off-price stores open in major markets in Canada. Nordstrom Rack’s first stores opened in Canada in 2018.
Nordstrom announced that it was exiting Canada on March 2 of this year, and liquidation sales began on March 18 after court approval. Nordstrom had filed to wind down its Canadian operations under the Companies Creditors’ Arrangement Act.
Since mid-March, Nordstrom’s liquidator has been holding sales at Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack stores — the initial discounts in March were 5% off most items, drawing criticism and even mocking by some. Sales gradually became deeper until recently when Nordstrom Rack’s stores cleared out quickly with little merchandise being seen on closing day Sunday. Nordstrom’s liquidation efforts are being led by Hilco Merchant Retail Solutions ULC and Gordon Brothers Canada.
When Nordstrom Rack’s stores first opened in Canada, there was excitement around the brand assortment that included an impressive offering of designer shoes, among other categories. The designer offerings appeared to diminish quickly, with many complaining that Nordstrom Rack’s Canadian store lacked interesting product that would have made the stores worth visiting. This was partly due to a shift in strategy by Nordstrom Rack, including in the US. The product assortment at Nordstrom Rack was also said to be somewhat inconsistent when compared to competitors such as TJX Group’s Winners and Marshalls banners in Canada.
Nordstrom Rack opened its first Canadian store in March of 2018 at Vaughan Mills near Toronto. Nordstrom Rack stores subsequently opened at Deerfoot Meadows in Calgary, at Yonge and Bloor in downtown Toronto, at Ottawa Train Yards in Ottawa, South Edmonton Common in Edmonton, Heartland Town Centre in Mississauga, and most recently in September of 2020 at the Willowbrook Shopping Centre in Langley near Vancouver.
The retailer had said in years past that it had planned to operate between 12 and 15 Rack stores in Canada, and store performance as well as the pandemic appear to have halted things. Nordstrom Rack stores are typically in the 30-40,000 square foot range and landlords will be looking to backfill these spaces.
The exit of Nordstrom Rack is good news for competitor TJX as well as Saks OFF 5TH, the off-price retailer owned by the Hudson’s Bay Company. Sales at OFF 5TH are also said to be weak with some units seeing sales of less than $100 per square foot, according to sources. It’s not known if Nordstrom Rack’s exit will be a boost to OFF 5TH, which has also seen numerous complaints from shoppers about a generally lacklustre assortment.
Nordstrom’s six full-priced, full-sized stores will remain open in Canada until next month when they, too, will shut forever. That will mark the end of Nordstrom’s run in Canada, which saw the chain lose money in Canada every year since its first store opened at CF Chinook Centre in Calgary in September of 2014.
Following the opening of the Calgary store, Nordstrom opened large full-priced locations in Ottawa (March 2015 at CF Rideau Centre), Vancouver (September 2015 at CF Pacific Centre), and three Toronto locations (CF Toronto Eaton Centre in September of 2016, Yorkdale Shopping Centre in October of 2016, and CF Sherway Gardens in September of 2017).
We’ll report back next month when Nordstrom’s remaining large-format stores shut forever.