Retail Insider Top 21 Most-Read Stories of 2021

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In 2021, the Canadian retail industry adapted and shifted throughout the second year of the pandemic. Top trends included growth in omni-channel, challenges with supply chain, marketplaces and inflation among other topics.

Canada also saw a number of brands enter the country through expansion and had a number of brands unexpectedly exit the market. We will be talking about the lasting impacts of 2021 for many years to come.

Over the course of the year, some articles published in Retail Insider saw many thousands of readers, and we’ve listed the top ones below in descending order.

21. Walmart Canada Accelerates E-Commerce Expansion with 1st In-Store Fully-Automated Fulfillment Centre

Exterior of Scarborough Walmart Supercentre. Photo: Walmart
Exterior of Scarborough Walmart Supercentre. Photo: Walmart

The 22,000-square-foot space will automate online grocery picking and dispensing and is part of Walmart’s push to grow market share amid changing consumer patterns.

20. Retail Photo Tour: Big Changes and New Retailers at Avalon Mall in St. John’s, Newfoundland

Avalon Mall – January 2020 (Photo Crombie REIT)
Avalon Mall – January 2021 (Photo Crombie REIT)

The leading shopping centre in Newfoundland is seeing exciting new tenants as part of beautiful expansion/renovation that has created one of the most attractive malls in Canada.

19. Hillside Centre in Victoria Adding New Retail Tenants Including Major Anchor

Hillside Centre in Victoria, BC

A new Walmart store is expected to be one of the top-selling in Canada given that it will replace an already productive location nearby.

18. Brief: Costco Opens Montreal Store, Lao Feng Xiang Opening 3rd Canadian Location

Other News: WYRTH opens Yorkdale pop-up, relevé opens in Toronto, T&T Supermarket opens in Langley, Aesop to open in West Vancouver at Park Royal.

17. Forever 21 Returning to Canada with Physical Stores

Forever 21 at Metropolis at Metrotown (July 2021). Photo: Lee Rivett.
Forever 21 signage at Metropolis at Metrotown (July 2021). Photo: Lee Rivett.

The US-based fast fashion retailer partnered with YM Inc. to bring stores back to Canada after launching a website last year following a bankruptcy.

16. Sobeys Expanding In-Store Vertical Farms Across Canada

Image: Sobeys Orangeville

Local farmers manage the vertical farming at the individual grocery stores, where a variety of herbs, microgreens, leafy greens, and lettuces are grown year round.

15. Disney Confirmed to be Closing 10 Additional Stores in Canada in August, Leaving Only 3 Prior to Full Exit

Disney Store Closure Image:

The popular brand has formally confirmed its next round of closures with some ‘cast members’ already securing new positions elsewhere.

14. Hudson’s Bay Downsizing Downtown Flagship Stores in Canada [Analysis]

Hudson’s Bay Flagship Store – Downtown Montreal Ste Catherine Street. Rendering: Hudson’s Bay Company

Mixed-use developments will replace standalone flagship Bay stores at a time when some leading global department stores are growing in size with non-retail attractions. An opportunity for creating massive F&B/attraction-heavy Hudson’s Bay flagships could be lost as a result.

13. How a Small Retailer in the BC Interior Amassed Over a Million Social Media Followers in 4 Months

'Hot Boss' Rhylan Streloff and Madicyn Dobie. Photo: Abbotsford News
‘Hot Boss’ Rhylan Streloff and Madicyn Dobie. Photo: Abbotsford News

JJs Fashions in Trail began posting videos about its “hot boss” leading to explosive growth in social media interaction and brand awareness.

12. Quebec Family Nabs Zellers Trademark From HBC to Open Small-Format Zellers Stores and Restaurants 

The future home of the Moniz family’s second Zellers storefront in Sorel-Tracy, Quebec. Photo: Google Street View

The Hudson’s Bay company is suing the Moniz family who have already opened one small-format Zellers-branded store with plans for more. 

11. Ontario Retail Shutdown Extension into January 2021 Will Cause Severe Harm to Industry: Experts

Shuttered Starbucks location on Toronto's Queen Street East. Photo: Dustin Fuhs
Shuttered Starbucks location on Toronto’s Queen Street East. Photo: Dustin Fuhs

Closures will have a major impact on retailers, large and small, hoping for Christmas and Boxing Day rushes at physical stores.

10. Canadian Tire Testing First-of-its-Kind-in-the-World Autonomous Trucking Technology

Canadian Tire Testing First-of-its-Kind-in-the-World Autonomous Trucking Technology
Canadian Tire Testing First-of-its-Kind-in-the-World Autonomous Trucking Technology

The breakthrough technology provides a transportation solution for the middle mile by enabling ‘next-generation’ automated trucks.

9. Shopping Centre ‘Le Boulevard’ in Montreal to Shutter Entirely


One of Canada’s first shopping centres has been expropriated by the city and will be shutting down entirely.

8. Ontario Premier Doug Ford Urged to Open Ontario Retail and Restaurants Immediately as Covid Cases Come Down at a Critical Time: Interviews

Indigo at Manulife Centre in Toronto – Photo by Dustin Fuhs

Businesses were supposed to open this week but the government extended the lockdown. Now there are calls to reopen things now.

7. Grocer Sobeys Opens North America’s 1st ‘Flex Store’: Interview/Photos

Image: Sobeys Orangeville

The Canadian grocery retailer is rolling out a national renovation program to redesign its stores across the country.

6. Big Changes Coming for Canadian Grocery in 2021 and Beyond: Expert

Retailer holds tablet and use augmented reality technology to monitor data.

Expansion of omnichannel development and greater use of predictive analytics and machine learning to help shape the grocery experience of tomorrow.

5. Couche-Tard Likely to Become a Grocery Retailer in Canada and it Would Disrupt Loblaw and Other Big Players: Interviews

Exterior of Couche-Tard store. Photo: Couche-Tard
Exterior of Couche-Tard store. Photo: Couche-Tard

Couche-Tard’s attempts to acquire Carrefour signals intention and with the future of gas stations in question, a broader grocery strategy is most likely at play.

4. Giant Tiger Launches New Store Concept [Photos]

Exterior of new Giant Tiger store on Walkley Road in Ottawa. Photo: Giant Tiger
Exterior of new Giant Tiger store on Walkley Road in Ottawa. Photo: Giant Tiger

The concept, which improves on the overall store design and offerings, will be rolled out as part of a national expansion.

3. Costco Opens 3rd Canadian ‘Business Centre’ Storefront with Several More Planned

Exterior of new Costco Business Centre in Edmonton. Photo: Costco

The retailer’s third location targeting businesses opened last week with plans to roll out more B2B stores in all major Canadian markets.

2. Zellers Store-in-Store Launches inside of Hudson’s Bay Location [Photos]

Zellers at Hudson’s Bay Burlington Centre

More Zellers locations could open in Hudson’s Bay stores according to a Hudson’s Bay Company spokesperson.


Disney Store Yorkdale Shopping Centre
Disney Store at Yorkdale Shopping Centre – Photo by Dustin Fuhs (July 31st, 2021)

The iconic entertainment brand is said to be exiting almost all of its retail stores globally as it grows other channels.

Keep reading Retail Insider, as we’ll be reporting on Canadian retail industry stories in 2022. Let’s all have a safe and prosperous new year!

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