Consumers remain loyal to Canadian retailers: report

New research by Mindshare lands as a number of established retailers retreat from the market.

That Canadian consumers remain loyal to Canadian brands and retailers is but one of the findings to come out of a new retail report by WPP’s Mindshare Canada.

According to the research released last week, 61% of consumers assert that it’s important or very important to purchase from a Canadian brand, and 63% say the same of purchasing from a Canadian retailer.

These findings come as several established North American retail chains, including several Canadian ones, appear to be on the retreat in Canada, shuttering their stores as international banners enter the market for the first time or plan to expand their young operations. Just last week, American children’s clothing store Gymboree announced it would be shuttering its stores following a bankruptcy filing.

It is not alone: Sears Canada closed down operations in 2017. More recently, Canadian denim retailer Jean Machine announced it will be closing its doors on Jan. 31. Those chains are accompanied by other North American brands, such as Designer Shoe Warehouse-owned Town Shoes, home improvement store Lowe’s, and American clothing retailer J. Crew, which are among the many that have announced closures of some, if not all, of their stores in Canada.

Meanwhile, a recent survey by CBRE found that Canada remains one of the most attractive destinations for international retailers, with 40 new brands opening stores in Toronto in 2017 alone.

“We have retailers that are closing in Canada and not because Canadians aren’t aware of them but because the experience, the merchandising and the value are now competitive territories under threat,” noted Sarah Thompson, Mindshare chief strategy officer, in a release accompanying her agency’s report. “Canadians are on a quest for satisfaction – and the satisfaction that they are seeking isn’t just that their dollar is well spent, but also fair treatment, and enough information to support their purchase and understanding of a product.”

She added, “retailers need to ensure they are attuned to the desires and needs of their customers and not guessing.”

Mindshare’s survey includes responses from 1,000 Canadians obtained between Nov. 14 and 22, including 800 English-speaking and 200 French-speaking consumers across various regions and age groups.

Among its other findings, Mindshare reports that  44% of Canadians shop online because convenience is “extremely important” to them, compare to 33% who shop in-store because it is convenient. Moreover, word-of-mouth remains an important part of the customer journey, as 50% of consumers report telling friends and family about their experiences after buying a new car, 42% do so after taking a trip and 42% when they buy furniture.

Mindshare will continue releasing details of its findings over the coming year.