Retail Concentration in Canada and the Competition Bureau
In this CSCA Research Insight, we focus our attention on the changes in the composition of the Top Ten retail conglomerates in Canada between 2014 and 2019. Our analysis highlights the increasing level of concentration amongst this upper echelon of retail conglomerates. The Top Ten increased their collective control of the Canadian marketplace – from 43% of total non-auto sales in Canada in 2014 to 50% by 2019. Much of the change that has occurred involves acquisition rather than organic growth of retail. Accompanying this increased sales concentration was a decrease in number of the Top Ten conglomerates headquartered in Canada. Over our study period, Canadian retailing has essentially witnessed ever bigger US-based global conglomerates outperforming in Canada their ever bigger Canadian-based competitors. Our findings are placed in the context of the role of the Competition Bureau in Canada, as we highlight issues surrounding competitive situations ranging from alleged price fixing to the domestic security role played by retail conglomerates. We also provide examples of competitive consequences in ‘local markets’ that have been of interest to the Bureau.