Newswise — Only a handful of retailers control more than 20 per cent of the Canadian retail market, according to a recent report on leading Canadian retail corporations released by Ryerson University’s Centre for the Study of Commercial Activity (CSCA).
The top three retail juggernauts are the Weston Group (Loblaws, The Real Canadian Supercentre, Maxi), Wal-Mart Inc. (Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart Supercentre) and The Sobeys Group (Sobeys, IGA, Price Chopper).
“Canada has a highly concentrated retail industry and it’s growing even more concentrated,” explains Tony Hernandez, who is the CSCA’s director and holds the Eaton Chair in Retailing. “A small number of players have a big impact on the range of goods and services that are available to consumers. So it’s important to study what those retail conglomerates are doing and where they are headed.”
The CSCA’s latest report examines sales figures, trends and growth strategies among the top 118 retail corporations in Canada in 2007. The report was led by Hernandez along with Christopher Daniel and Joseph Aversa, both CSCA geographic information system analysts.
The researchers also found that Canadian-based conglomerates accounted for approximately 60 per cent of retail sales, representing a small decline from 2006. The remaining 40 per cent, meanwhile, were controlled by foreign interests, mostly companies based in the United States. Furthermore, as new U.S.-owned Wal-Mart supercentres sprout up across Canada, the concentration of American retailers north of the border is expected to rise.
The news, however, isn’t all dire for domestic companies. In fact, some home-grown retailers experienced tremendous growth between 2006 and 2007. For example, Lululemon Athletica Inc. of British Columbia nearly doubled its sales from $147 million to $235 million.
“The fact is good retail concepts are good retail concepts,” says Hernandez who is also a professor in the Department of Geography. “When you have a strong brand, it doesn’t matter where the concept comes from.”
As the CSCA looks ahead to its next report on Canada leading retailers, Hernandez anticipates those findings will reflect the course of the financial crisis.
“It will be interesting to see how retailers have jockeyed for position during the recession,” he says. “The challenging retail environment over the past year will no doubt be reflected in the numbers, but I think we will also see a rebound now that consumer confidence is improving.”
Ryerson University is Canada's leader in innovative career-focused education, offering close to 100 PhD, master’s, and undergraduate programs in the Faculty of Arts; the Faculty of Communication & Design; the Faculty of Community Services; the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Science; and the Ted Rogers School of Management. Ryerson University has graduate and undergraduate enrolment of 25,000 students. With more than 68,000 registrations annually, The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education is Canada's leading provider of university-based adult education.