Pulse of Canada

Is Target too American?

Pulse of Canada

According to a recent survey by Forum Research, U.S. discounter Target ranks lowest among Canada's big-box retailers in terms of customer satisfaction.

According to the study, only 27 per cent of customers said they were "very satisfied" with Target, the discounter that arrived in Canada just last March.

Forty per cent of respondents gave Walmart and The Bay favourable ratings, and Costco got the highest ranking at 62 per cent.

Target has set up 124 stores across Canada since spring, has set up three distribution centres and hired and trained thousands of employees. However, customers have complained about a lack of inventory and have been disappointed to find that prices of goods are considerably higher than those at Target's U.S. outlets.

[ Related: Canada's Metro to operate Target's pharmacies in Quebec ]

But is there more to it than that? Some experts have pegged Target's disappointing customer satisfaction as anti-American backlash. Target's success has come from purchasing and quickly shutting down the Zellers chain, an iconic Canadian retailer. And upon shuttering stores, Target forced former Zellers employees to re-apply for jobs under the new management. These PR stumbles have contributed to Target's rocky start in Canada.

That said, the American chain Walmart has long been criticized as killing "mom and pop" stores, and Costco is also an American-owned company that fared well in the survey. To be accurate, The Bay is also owned by NRDC Equity Partners, a U.S. private equity firm.

So we ask you: Are Target's low customer-satisfaction numbers because of inventory and prices, or because it appears too American?

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