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First Missteps in Canada?

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When we wrote our story about U.S. retailers and developers trying to expand in Canada earlier this summer, many market experts warned that entering Canada for the first time won't be an easy feat. This week, we are getting the first inklings of what they were talking about.

Among the retailers opening new stores in Canada this summer is J.Crew. But it seems that no sooner than the chain opened its first store in Toronto than it has already managed to turn off some local shoppers. The reason? J.Crew is charging customers at its Canadian stores and on its Canadian e-commerce site a 15 percent premium on merchandise compared to what it charges U.S. shoppers.

Many Canadians are well familiar with what J.Crew's U.S. prices are because they've shopped at its stores stateside and they are outraged at being forced to pay extra for the same products. Some have threatened that they will stop shopping at J.Crew or will return previously bought merchandise.

“I will not spend another penny there,” said Suzanne Dugard, a longtime J. Crew customer who bought about $600 worth of clothes at the Toronto store on Thursday and plans to take them all back. “I feel once again as a Canadian, I'm getting screwed.”

What does everyone think? Was J.Crew justified in raising prices at its Canadian store? Is there any way to mend the chain's image north of the border?

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Elaine Misonzhnik

Senior associate editor Elaine Misonzhnik has been writing for National Real Estate Investor since June 2006 and has covered commercial real estate for more than 12 years. She first became...
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