Poll finds B.C. shoppers keen on new Target stores

U.S. retailer's arrival may eat into Walmart's market share

The impending arrival of U.S. retailer Target in B.C. may come mainly at the expense of Walmart, a new poll suggests.

An Insights West poll found 82 per cent of shoppers are likely to shop at Target if there’s one nearby and 96 per cent are aware it’s coming.

Pollsters say respondents were broadly enthusiastic and attribute that to brand awareness – 69 per cent of B.C. residents polled have visited a Target store in the U.S. before, 35 per cent within the last year.

That level of recognition outstrips other U.S. retailers that have yet to enter the Canadian market, such as JC Penney and Nordstrom.

“Target is well positioned with British Columbians even before market entry,” Insights West senior vice president Catherine Dawson said.

About a third of respondents said they won’t shop less often anywhere else after Target Canada arrives, while 28 per cent said they’d cut back on visits to Walmart.

Between 16 and 14 per cent said they’d spend less at other larger retailers like The Bay, Winners, London Drugs and Best Buy.

Most of those polled said they expect new U.S. retailers here will force other chains like Walmart and Costco to reduce their prices.

But they’re not under any illusions that prices will be as cheap as at its U.S. stores – 87 per cent said they don’t expect U.S. retailers to offer south-of-the-border prices here.

Target’s already open stores in Ontario charge somewhat more than in the U.S. for most items. The retailer has cited higher Canadian transportation costs, wages and duties as the reason.

Consumers were split on whether Canadian retailers are to blame for a lack of competitiveness against U.S. chains.

Dawson said it appears B.C. shoppers are torn about what will happen when Target arrives.

“While they will certainly shop these big U.S. retailers and hope for a positive impact on our economy, they worry about it hurting Canadian businesses,” she said.

Clothing and various products for the home top the list of categories those polled said they expect to buy at Target Canada.

Fourteen per cent of those polled disapprove of U.S. retailers and 31 per cent said they’re indifferent to Target’s plans.

Target is to open 19 locations in B.C. in the coming months.

The first Lower Mainland locations opening this spring include sites in Delta, Coquitlam and Langley, while more expected by winter in Surrey, Richmond, Burnaby, Maple Ridge, Abbotsford and Chilliwack.