Zellers is returning and I am not here for it
Reviving the failed bargain store is not what consumers need as we approach 2023
You may have thought your last memories of Zellers would be from your childhood, but that will no longer be the case: the Hudson’s Bay Company is bringing back the bargain retail chain.
A decade after the business closed its doors, Hudson’s Bay will oversee the resurrection of Zellers in the new year through an online shopping website, along with its familiar brick-and-mortar layout within select Hudson’s Bay locations.
Hudson’s Bay is hoping to appeal to Canadians by offering up some nostalgia and a “refreshed identity.” But besides the quick thrill restoring Zellers would provide, bringing back the business will serve absolutely no purpose.
Financially speaking, let us not forget that Zellers and its American equivalent, Target, failed for a reason in this country. Zellers fell victim to their kryptonite: Walmart Canada. The “Lowest Price is the Law” slogan inevitably stopped resonating with consumers when Walmart Canada proved they could set the pricing bar even lower.
On the other hand, Target closed its doors just as quickly as the company arrived on Canadian soil. After assuming old Zellers stores, Target met their demise after facing run-down locations, inventory issues, and unflattering prices when compared to (once again) Walmart Canada.
Considering Hudson’s Bay’s financial troubles, particularly regarding rent disputes and online relevancy during the pandemic, why would they think reintroducing a failed business would be a great idea? The off-price retail competition has only strengthened since Zellers left.
Jeff Bezos’s Amazon is a global e-commerce empire which boasts of “low prices on everyday essentials” on millions of products. Winners, Marshalls, and HomeSense are prominent stores in Canada which claim to share an upwards of 60 per cent-off retail price discounts on overproduced or overbought merchandise from their vendors.
Zellers does not need to return because there are existing companies which effectively provide wide-ranging bargains. However, purchasing apparel and appliances in this manner is not the most environmentally ethical.
Shopping second-hand through thrift stores, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, or Poshmark allows consumers to purchase goods not only at a lower price, but sustainable in the process.
Relying heavily on Amazon or other fast fashion retailers leads to overconsumption by purchasing unnecessarily large volumes of clothes. Conversely, buying second-hand items promotes slow fashion because those clothes are given a new life and can be re-worn instead of discarded.
Zellers’ comeback is an environmental issue because reintroducing another low-price retailer that continuously pumps out new apparel will only exacerbate wastefulness.
Once Zellers arrives in early 2023, the chain will see why it was not needed by consumers over the past decade. Off-price shoppers and thrifters have gotten by just fine by being in the presence of several bargain stores and consignment shops.
My last memory of Zellers before it closed was buying a set of velvet hair scrunchies with my mom when I was in elementary school. Today, I wish to see Zellers in the same place as those scrunchies: somewhere deep in the past.