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Stores Close and Malls Reduce Hours in Canada Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

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Please Note: We have updates to this article as of Wednesday where we report on thousands of more stores closing in Canada temporarily: Mass Stores Closures in Canada Escalate Significantly Amid COVI-19 Pandemic [Update]

Concern over the spread of the COVID-19 virus (aka coronavirus) has led to retailers announcing temporary store closures in Canada while mall landlords announce reduced operating hours. It comes at an already challenging time in the retail industry and could lead to the demise of some retailers if the situation persists.

Over the past few days, several retailers have announced that stores would close temporarily in Canada in an effort to reduce the spread of the illness.

Seattle-based Nordstrom announced Monday evening that it would shut all of its stores, including six full-line stores in Canada and six Nordstrom Rack locations. Sephora announced Tuesday that all of its North American stores would shutter — some had expressed concern over the retailer being open given the ‘hand-on’ nature of product testing. H&M announced on Tuesday its stores would close for the short-term as well, as did Japanese retailer MUJI that operates stores in the Toronto and Vancouver markets.

US sportswear brand Nike, which over the past several years has been opening direct-to-consumer storefronts in Canada, announced Sunday that all of its stores would be closing at least until March 27th.

Apple shuttered its 29 Canadian stores over the weekend for at least two weeks as well. Apple stores are the most productive in Canada in terms of sales per square foot. Apple says that it will continue to fulfill orders online. Along with the Canadian store closures, Apple is closing its stores worldwide temporarily while reopening its 42 units in China where the virus has reportedly been mostly contained. On Tuesday, Microsoft also announced all stores will close temporarily.

US apparel retailer Urban Outfitters Inc, which owns brands including Anthropologie and Free People, announced on Saturday it was closing all its stores worldwide until at least March 28. That includes several storefronts across Canada. Outdoor retailer Patagonia shuttered its stores globally including units in Canada. New Balance announced Monday that is stores would shutter temporarily.

On Sunday, Lush Cosmetics announced that it was temporarily closing all 258 stores in North America at least until March 29. Production will also be slowed. “Because our products are all made fresh by hand weekly for our shops, these closures will also require us to significantly scale down our manufacturing and distribution operations for the duration of the shop closures,” owners Karen and Mark Wolverton said in a statement. The Wolvertons are based in Vancouver. 

Montreal insider Maxime Frechette informs us that the beauty hall at the downtown Montreal Hudson’s Bay store has shut down for now. He also informed us that stores including Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister and Hermes have closed all stores temporarily. Hermes was set to open its new Montreal store at Holt Renfrew Ogilvy on April 10. On Monday, Mr. Frechette confirmed that Levi’s had shut its stores in Canada — Levi’s has been expanding its retail footprint in Canada significantly over the past four years. On Monday as well, Mr. Frechette informed us that Canadian retailer Laura had shut its stores for the time being, as has athletic retailer Foot Locker.

The unique and edgy five-level SSENSE store and cafe in Old Montreal has closed temporarily as announced on Monday. The retailer will continue to operate online.

Montreal-based Browns Shoes on Monday announced that its stores would close “until further notice” while continuing to operate online. That includes stores under the Browns, B2 and Browns Outlet banners.

Vancouver-based Lululemon announced on Sunday that the retailer would shut its stores from this Monday until at least March 27. It will continue to pay workers for all of their hours during this time. And employees will receive pay for 14 days if they are asked to self-quarantine due to COVID-19.

Vancouver-based fashion retailer Kit and Ace, which operates a network of stores in Canada with an Edmonton location that was scheduled to open this spring, announced Monday evening that it would close its stores at least until March 27. Employees will be paid for hours that they would have worked during the shutdown, according to an email sent to subscribers.

Vancouver-based women’s fashion retailer Aritzia announced Sunday that all of its stores will be shuttered “until further notice”. Online profit from sales during the time will be donated to the retailer’s ‘Aritzia Community™ Relief Fund’.

Montreal-based vegan accessory brand Matt & Nat announced Monday afternoon that it would shut all of its stores temporarily. That includes several locations in Canada as the brand has been growing by opening in major malls.

US-based accessory retailer Fossil has shut its stores in Canada. Last week, its CF Sherway Gardens store in Toronto closed after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. Under Armour, which opened its first standalone ‘Brand Store’ in Canada last year at CF Toronto Eaton Centre, has shut its stores globally. US-based Women’s fashion brand Reformation, which opened its first Canadian store at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre, has closed temporarily along its stores in the US and UK. Eyewear brand Warby Parker, which operates two stores in Toronto and one in Vancouver, shut its stores on Sunday. Disney announced that as of Tuesday, its stores will be closed temporarily.

Shaw Communications announced Sunday evening that its Freedom Mobile and Shaw retail stores would close for at least two weeks. Telus also announced it would shutter its mall kiosks as of the end of the day Monday. J.Crew shut its remaining three Canadian stores as of Tuesday, as did Burton snowboards which operates a store in Toronto. Exercise bike brand Peloton closed its Canadian showrooms on Monday for two weeks. Footwear and accessory brand Steve Madden has shut its stores until at least March 27, including its SHOO location at CF Toronto Eaton Centre. Footwear brand Vans shut its Canadian stores as well. Bath and Body Works announced Monday evening that its stores would shutter with no timeline given for reopening. Beauty brands Saje Natural Wellness, Aesop and Sephora are shuttering temporarily and Uniqlo as well.

Canada Goose announced that as of Tuesday, all of its stores globally would shutter until at least March 31. The brand operates seven stores in Canada and has started construction on a CF Toronto Eaton Centre location. Canada Goose stores sell tens of millions of dollars of product annually. Production of all Canada Goose products will be halted for at least two weeks and the company has revised its financial outlook.

Some independent retailers have also announced temporary store closures. Edmonton-based women’s fashion brand EMMYDEVEAUX, which operates a storefront in the city, shuttered Friday for at least two weeks. In an email, the brand said, “We are a very high touch business with many people trying on several items each visit.” Business is moving online only until at least March 25 according to the brand. “You can shop online anytime at emmydeveaux.shop. We are offering free shipping and returns in Canada and we will still be available via support@emmydeveaux.com and social media to answer sizing questions. Our products will still ship out, as usual, we ship every business day of the week.”

This comes at an already challenging time for Canadian retail. More than 1,000 store locations have either already shut in Canada or will be doing so shortly after a higher-than-usual number of bankruptcies amongst retailers operating in Canada. A second wave of store closures was already in the works. That includes recent announcements that home furnishings retailer Pier 1 would shutter its 67 Canadian stores, grocery Planet Organic would shutter 11 stores, and Vancouver-based luxury retailer Leone will close its store after 33 years. Australian footwear and fashion brand UGG is also shutting stores in Canada and other announcements are forthcoming.

Other retailers and brands, particularly those relying on China for production, are said to be struggling amid concerns that product isn’t available for stores. Production in China came to a halt for weeks as the country was essentially shut down over coronavirus. Sources say that some retailers heavily reliant on Chinese goods were expected to have to shutter temporarily amid shortages, and some struggling retailers may never reopen depending on finances. Some struggling global brands may also shut down due to the situation according to one source Retail Insider interviewed last week.

Store closures, both temporary and permanent, will cause a headache for landlords. Shopping centre landlords in Canada have also made announcements that include reduced operating hours for centres in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19 through less social-contact.

Landlord Cadillac Fairview announced on Saturday that it would reduce the operating hours of its 19 Canadian shopping centres effective Monday. The new mall operating hours will be 11:00 am to 7:00 pm every day except for when regularly scheduled closing hours are earlier. Cadillac Fairview says that these hours will be in effect for at least two weeks. Leasing staff for the landlord told Retail Insider that many will be working from home for the time being.

“At Cadillac Fairview our first priority is the health and safety of our guests, tenants/their employees and our employees across our portfolio. In light of many local governments taking actions to support our communities during this difficult time, Cadillac Fairview, as well as our industry peers will be limiting the hours of operation at our shopping malls,” the landlord said in a statement.

Events planned for malls have also been cancelled. Maintenance crews will focus on enhanced cleaning procedures for common areas, washrooms, stairwells, elevators, and any employee common areas. Hand washing signs, based on Health Canada’s best practices guidelines, have been installed in mall washrooms. Hand sanitizer stations have been added where possible.

Other landlords have also reduced store hours. Oxford Properties announced on Saturday that retailers at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre were permitted to reduce hours to 11:00 am to 7:00 pm. The mall itself will remain open between 10:00 am and 9:00 pm for the time being except for regularly scheduled closing hours that are earlier. A review of mall websites shows other Oxford-managed malls have also permitted reduced hours while enhancing cleaning protocol. Ivanhoé Cambridge also reduced hours at malls such as Metropolis at Metrotown in the Vancouver area, which is one of the largest and most productive centres in the country. QuadReal’s Bayview Village in Toronto is allowing retailers to reduce hours though it says it will “postpone all social gatherings, club activities and programming until further notice.” Other announcements are expected to be forthcoming this week as the situation unfolds.

One landlord Retail Insider spoke with over the weekend said that at some point, shopping centre properties in Canada could shutter entirely depending on the spread of the virus. In the United States, the American Dream retail and entertainment centre, which was set to unveil its retail offerings this week, has closed at least until the end of the month. That includes the centre’s extensive entertainment options — American Dream is owned by landlord Triple Five which also owns West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton and the Mall of America in suburban Minneapolis.

At West Edmonton Mall, attractions such as Galaxyland, the Sea Lions Rock Show, and some slides in the World Waterpark have shut down. The waterpark’s hot tub will operate at a reduced capacity, and the Galaxy Land 7D theatre reduced its capacity.

Information that we received Sunday evening indicates that mass closures may soon be expected in Canada that could include all malls, restaurants and retailers excluding grocery and pharmacy, with announcements forthcoming. We’ll continue to monitor the situation as well as post updates in our Canadian Retail News From Around the Web.

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