Nordstrom’s new flagship location intensifies Vancouver’s retail war

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On Friday, Nordstrom’s long-awaited Vancouver flagship location celebrated its grand opening. While fashionistas throughout the Metro area are delighted about this news, retail analysts note that this occasion will only intensify the tough competition between upscale department stores in the region.

To celebrate the opening of the massive 230,000 square-foot store, the retail giant held various events throughout the week, the highlights of which included a gala and celebrity-studded fashion show, live music from the band Side One, photo booths, food trucks, and a cosmetics and fragrance-centred outdoor “Beauty Bash.” Additionally, Friday saw one of Nordstrom’s traditional opening ceremonies, complete with a rowdy employee countdown.

For other retailers, however, this opening has not been cause for celebration. Nordstrom rivals Hudson Bay and Holt Renfrew, for example, are now investing heavily in the renovation, expansion and merchandising of their stores in order to remain competitive in this region. Hudson’s Bay also has plans to bring Saks Fifth Avenue to Vancouver, which analysts say will compete nose-to-nose with Nordstrom.

Retail analyst David Ian Gray, founder of DIG360 Consulting, notes that in order to survive, existing high-end retailers will have to match Nordstrom’s unparalleled customer service.

“All of the processes Nordstrom has built converge on creating the ability for their people to offer great service,” he says. “Their product knowledge is outstanding.”

Chris Patterson, another retail analyst, adds that in order to keep up with Nordstrom, existing retailers must “hire more staff and ensure they are motivated enough to provide customer service comparable to the competition.” CJ

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