It’s been a disappointing year for Target Canada, the wayward retail stepchild of everyone’s favourite American superstore. Since launching last spring, the Canadian chain hasn’t quite lived up to its parent-corp’s expectations, thanks to a whole bunch of factors: higher-than-expected price tags, competition from rival shops like Walmart and Loblaws, and distribution issues that left shelves at Canadian outlets looking sort of sad and empty.
A recent story in the Wall Street Journal adds a new touch of pathos to reports about the chain’s inventory issues. The article cites some specific examples of harried store managers trying valiantly, but ineffectually, to disguise the fact that they just didn’t have enough stuff to put on display—by spacing action figures really far apart in the toy section, for instance, or devoting an entire half-aisle to one specific brand of laundry detergent. Given the American chain’s reputation for miscellaneous abundance, the neglectful state of Canadian shops seems particularly unfortunate, as if they were set up to fail from the start.
Still, some sources are still betting on a Target Canada comeback, including credit-rating agency Moody’s. “Writing [Target Canada] off is extremely premature,” Moody’s vice president and senior analyst Charles O’ Shea told the Financial Post.
After all the negativity, it’s nice to know someone out there is still rooting for the struggling subsidiary of North America’s second-largest discount retail corporation.