Retail report: lululemon athletica reopens stores, Pier 1 calls it quits, and Stats Can delivers a grim report

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      It's been retail hell in Canada over the past two months.

      That's apparent in the growing list of bankruptcies, as well by a dreadful report from Statistics Canada.

      This morning, the national agency stated that retail sales fell 10 percent in March to $47.1 billion. 

      "Based on respondent feedback, about 40% of retailers closed their doors during March," Statistics Canada said. "The average length of shutdowns was five business days. In the clothing and clothing accessories stores subsector, 91% of retailers were closed in March for an average of 13 days."

      The numbers will likely be worse in April when retailers were closed for the entire month.  

      Earlier this month, Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. of Chicago reported that the largest shopping mall companies in Canada only collected about 15 percent of the rent due in May.

      Two major Canadian shopping mall owners with properties in Vancouver, Cadillac Fairview and Ivanhoé Cambridge, are not publicly traded and are therefore not required to release their revenues.

      But one large tenant, Gap Inc., has already declared that it doesn't feel that it's legally obligated to pay rent if public health officials or governments ordered its stores to close. The corporation owns the Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy.

      Other retailers have filed for protection from bankruptcy, including Aldo, J. Crew, and Reitmans. And Pier 1 Imports was unable to come out of bankruptcy protection this week, telling a judge that it can't find a buyer and the creditors don't want to take it over.

      South of the border, the largest mall in the United States has missed two monthly payments on a $1.4-billion mortgage-backed security, according to Bloomberg.

      The 5.6-million-square-foot Mall of America is in the Minneapolis area and has been closed since March 17. 

      There's a Canadian connection to this story.

      That's because the mall is owned by the Edmonton-based Triple Five Group—controlled by the Ghermezian family, who also have the West Edmonton Mall in their portfolio.

      It's not entirely grim, of course. Shopping malls are welcoming customers in the Lower Mainland.

      And this week, Vancouver-based lululemon athletica announced that it reopened more than 150 stores around the world, with another 200 locations expected to welcome shoppers over the next two weeks.

      Staff in lulu stores will be wearing face coverings. They'll also make "a daily health declaration before every shift", according to a company news release.

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