Slower Business Growth and Challenges with Job Opportunity !!!
In 2018, about 30 international brands entered Canada by opening their first stores. That was down from the 50+ that entered the country in 2017, which was a record. There’s uncertainty in the world as events unfold with international trade disagreements, geopolitical tensions, technological challenges, and increased labour shortages — that’s on top of an already slowing economy.
Industry experts are predicting that the remainder of 2019 could be a challenging one for some retailers in Canada, though there are also opportunities for exceptional brands in various markets. There’s been a slight slowing in international retailers entering the country by opening stores over the past year, and landlords say that it’s become more challenging to lease retail space, with cannabis companies being a notable exception. Several recent bankruptcies and store closures in Canada also have some concerned, though there are opportunities for success if retailers address the new reality.
Massive Store Closures: We got off to a rocky start in January and February of 2019 when several major chains filed for bankruptcy and announced that they were closing stores. That’s not unusual in the industry, as companies evaluate their overall operations after the busy December holiday season. US chains such as Gymboree announced that they were closing all stores in Canada, with Lowe’s also announcing that it was closing 27 Rona locations. Crabtree & Evelyn has shuttered almost all stores worldwide, including Canadian units. Canada’s Town Shoes chain closed its final stores in January, and Jean Machine shuttered its remaining storefronts. Reitmans athletic brand Hyba will no longer have standalone stores (the line will be available at Reitmans stores). Other chains such as J. Crew have been closing stores across the country with an uncertain future. February saw more store closure announcements. That includes Payless Shoe Source, which will close all 248 Canadian stores as well as about 2,300 in the United States. Hudson’s Bay’s home furnishings chain Home Outfitters also announced that it would close all 37 stores, which means there will be a considerable amount of retail space to fill. So the retail landscape has had its fair share of bad news recently with announcements of several retail stores in Canada closing down.
Challenges with Retail Job Opportunity: And while the so-called retail apocalypse weighs heavily on people’s minds, an interesting trend is developing in the industry – recently a staffing agency said retail jobs are now the most in demand in Canada. And while jobs in the industry are being shed because of some bricks and mortar shuttering there’s also a revolution taking place as many new jobs are being created to meet the growing demand in the ecommerce space or online shops.
Now, you take all the new people coming in who are opening, expanding, and showing amazing growth, they’re actually people heavy. They’re employment heavy. They are hiring experts. They are training experts. There’s a huge demand for retail if you’re a specialist. A specialist in luxury.A specialist in tech.A specialist in cosmetics.A specialist in events. It’s a different kind of retail that’s screaming for talent versus the retail that’s shutting down which was basically clerk based, low skilled. There’s a great demand for high skill, low demand for the checkout level.
While the news is full of national retailers closing down stores, there remains plenty of retail expansion from new brands comprised of ecommerce sites opening bricks and mortar locations, European and new American retailers seeing high margins achieved in Canadian retail and tech-related enterprises. That’s basically driving the retail hiring rate these days. In a sense, the shift to ecommerce is also creating skill based employment and careers. As Ecommerce still needs people to operate it. But now you’re talking about needing technical people. You’re needing ecommerce merchandisers, marketing experts, inventory experts. Another example, The huge Amazon warehouses that are all robotics. Robotics takes engineers to operate them. Finally, Retail is no longer a simple case of purveyors of fine goods anymore. It’s become entertainment. It’s Technology and It needs to become a High Tech Entertain type of organization so it needs to hire tech savvy entertainers and the support teams that requires. These types of retail staffers just don’t exist. They have to be – “ trained in this type of skill by the time changes, technology changes, perception changes!!”