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Final Sears Canada stores shutter doors for good

Final Sears Canada stores shutter doors for good
From CBC - January 14, 2018

All remaining Sears Canada stores will close their doors for good on Sunday, including 17 in Ontario.

The department store chain had been in business in Canada since 1953, but struggled in recent years to adapt to the internet age.

That left the retailer little choice but to announce late last year that it would shutter all of its remaining stores after a last-ditch effort to re-invent itself as "Sears 2.0."

The chain spent the bulk of its last year in existence attempting to change itselfa hodgepodge process that included adding grocery stores to certain locations, hosting a pop-up shop in a trendy Toronto neighbourhood and developing dash buttons that would give customers the ability to restock favourite products from home.

But those efforts failed to materialize and the long-time staple of Canada's retail landscape filed for creditor protection in June, sold off some locations and decided to liquidate the rest of its roughly 190 stores, leaving some 15,000 employees out of work.

Many mistakes made: expert

The chain's demise is the end of an era, retail expert John Williams tells CBC Toronto, but also a sign that remaining department stores ca not afford to make mistakes.

Sears Canada failed because it focused too much on real estate, he says, and adds it did not change with the times, failed to stand out and ultimately became mundane.

Its biggest mistake, Williams says, was not taking advantage of its very popular print catalogue.

"Sears had every opportunity, with its catalogue, to jump into the e-commerce world, and they flubbed it," he said.

Williams adds that Sears Canada did many things right, however, such as having popular brands, including Kenmore, as well as good merchandise and sales people, but the chain did not pull it all together.

It then declined as Walmart grew andHudson's Bay revitalized itself.

Competition remains for other department stores

Now, Williams says remaining department stores must compete with Amazon or follow the path of Sears.

"The really, really interesting thing about the retail industry is the 900-pound gorillaAmazonfollowed by another gorilla,Alibaba, out of China," he added. "They are there. You ca not see them, but they are there. And they are gobbling up market share at a horrific rate."

A report by J.C. Williams Group says about 30 per cent of Canadians are members of Amazon Prime, a paid membership that means free two-day shipping.

'Too little, too late'

Sears' final days

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