retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal reports that Walmart “is spending half a billion dollars this year to expand in Canada, the latest example of a retail rush north to take advantage of Canada's relatively robust economy and eager-to-spend consumers.

“Wal-Mart's Canadian arm will open 40 supercenter-format stores in the next fiscal year, though only eight of these will be new stores. The remainder will consist of expansions or remodellings of existing stores, as well as store relocations. The expansion is expected to increase the number of Wal-Mart stores in Canada to 333 by the end of January 2012, including 164 supercenters.”

It probably is not a coincidence that Walmart is upping the ante in Canada at the same time as Target has announced that it will start opening stores there beginning in 2013, its first venture outside the US.

According to the story, “The foray into Canada comes as U.S. retailers look for new opportunities outside of the saturated domestic market. Canada is a particularly attractive destination, as retail sales have already recovered from their recessionary lows. As well, Canada's proximity to the U.S., and its similar culture and language make it an attractive destination for U.S. retailers.”
KC's View:
Seems to me that the big thing that Walmart has going for it in Canada is the presence of Shelley Broader, who used to run Sweetbay Supermarkets in Florida, and now is serving as its chief merchant north of the border. Shelley gets food in a way that many food retailers do not...and she is going to prove to be an enormous weapon for Walmart there ... and probably here in the not-too-distant future.