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Target Canada: 'It is like a renovated Zellers'

Shopper Sam Skelhorn waits in a tent for the opening of the new Target store in in Guelph, Ont. The company is expected to open between 125 and 135 locations in Canada.

Dave Chidley/THE CANADIAN PRESS

We lined up in droves, some of us even camped out in tents, for the arrival. And when the moment finally came, after months of pomp and marketing hype, some of us were disappointed.

No, we're not talking about Justin Timberlake's long-awaited Canadian tour, we're talking about Target Corp.'s Canadian launch. Unlike Justin, who was worth the wait, according to the Globe's Tim Kiladze, Target took to the Canadian stage without the freshness (and cheap prices and American candy) we were hoping for.

While Twitter users enthusiastically raved about their shopping experiences, Globe readers told a different story. In a survey of more than 300 readers, the reaction to Target's debut was fairly ho-hum.

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"Very disappointed," said H. Teresa of Burlington, Ont. "The opening lacked the 'buzz' we have all been waiting for."

"Employees seem to outnumber customers," said Ted Stanway of the Cambridge, Ont., store. "There are bare spots on shelves, many items not priced. Of the ones that are priced, there appear to be precious few bargains."

Of the 42 per cent of survey respondents who had been to a Canadian Target store, 27 per cent said they were satisfied with the prices compared to other Canadian retailers; 41 per cent said they were satisfied with the level of service; and 37 per cent said they were satisfied with the product selections.

The new Target stores, readers say, are a lot like the old Zellers stores they replaced. Some shoppers expressed disappointment that the stores did not carry the same products or prices as their U.S. counterparts.

"The prices were average and in most ways not very different than the Zellers stores that they replaced. Cleaner, yes, but not that different," R. Genge of Mississauga said of the new Milton, Ont., store.

"One trip was enough," said Julie of Brampton, Ont. "It is like a renovated Zellers. The shelves were empty, and prices were higher than Wal-Mart."

"My husband and I stopped at the Target in Guelph," said Dana of Cambridge, Ont. "I'd go there to buy things I'd buy at Zellers, which seems to be mostly what they're stocking. The prices weren't great (definitely more expensive than Zellers was), nor was the selection. It's just another store that happens to have had some hoopla."

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"I was hoping for more U.S. exclusive brands," said Mohit Verma of Waterloo, Ont. "Love the atmosphere, though; hope it keeps up as time goes by."

Not everyone was disappointed, however. Danielle of Mississauga, Ont., said she was impressed with the Milton store: "Each department had attractive, modern, well-made merchandise, and gave the impression that everything had been carefully selected with an eye toward attractive functionality. The lines were long, but many cash registers were open and it appeared to be moving well."

How do you feel about Target's arrival in Canada? Have your say in the comments section.

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About the Author
Report on Business Community Editor

Dianne Nice is community editor for Report on Business and writes about social media. Previously, she was The Globe's online editor for Careers and Personal Finance and has written about these topics for Report on Business and Globe Investor. More

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