The Peak Dispatch: HBC’s Burgeoning Luxury Empire and Why More Fans are Refusing to Pay Big Money For Concerts

The Hudson Bay

The Hudson's Bay store in downtown Toronto, pictured in 2017. HBC has announced it's buying U.S. luxury department store Neiman Marcus. Photo: Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press

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In this round-up, The Peak explores the burgeoning luxury retail empire being built by North America’s oldest company, why music fans are saying “No” to exorbitant ticket prices and which Canadian province just opened a new national park. 

 

Hudson’s Bay is Building a Luxury Retail Empire

 

North America’s oldest company isn’t too old to learn some new tricks.

What happened: Hudson’s Bay Co. (HBC) is buying U.S. luxury department store Neiman Marcus for ~$3.6 billion. The deal will bring together two of the largest luxury retailers in North America under a new banner, dubbed Saks Global, with a combined 75 stores and 100 outlets.

  • Joining forces will cut a lot of duplicate costs between the companies and give the retail giant more power to negotiate better deals with suppliers.
  • Amazon and Salesforce will hold minority stakes in the company, which some analysts see as a sign that new tech will be a part of the effort to revive sales.

Catch-up: The luxury market is in a rut after a brief post-pandemic boom. Even international luxury conglomerates like LVMH are struggling to acquire new customers and convince existing ones to splurge. That decline is hitting department stores, like the Bay, even harder.

  • Neiman Marcus was forced to file for bankruptcy protection in 2020, while the Bay has closed a number of locations in recent years.

Why it matters: The deal is a vote of confidence in the future of brick-and-mortar luxury shopping at a time when e-commerce has become a focus for many retailers. — Lucas Arender

 

Concerts Aren’t Selling Like They Used To

 

A growing number of music fans are looking at the astronomical prices for concert tickets and saying, “In this economy? No, thanks.”

What happened: Big-name acts accustomed to filling arenas are finding sales are slow this summer, with some even cancelling their tours in recent weeks.

  • Jennifer Lopez and The Black Keys are the two highest-profile performers to cancel their entire tours. Bad Bunny cancelled one show of his tour so far, reportedly because of poor sales.

Dig deeper: We looked at ticket listings for six of the biggest shows at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena this summer and found only one that appeared close to selling out.

  • Thousands of non-resale tickets are still available for shows by Future, Missy Elliott, and Snoop Dogg (who plays this Wednesday). Tickets for shows by Usher and Childish Gambino appear to be selling faster.
  • Based on Ticketmaster listings, Avril Lavigne’s August show is the hottest seller — only a couple hundred tickets were still available for sale at face value.

Why it matters: Last year’s phenomenon of “revenge spending” on expensive concerts – driven in part by Taylor Swift and Beyoncé’s blockbuster tours – appears to be over.

  • That tracks with Statistics Canada data showing that Canadians’ spending on recreation and culture has declined since the highs of 2023.

The good news: Slowing sales may mean cheaper concert tickets. Recently released data from SeatGeek shows resale ticket prices for summer concerts are 17 per cent lower than last year, per Axios. — Taylor Scollon

 

Canada Welcomes a New National Park

 

Last year, Parks Canada set a goal of adding 10 new national parks by 2030. As of this week, it has nine more to go.

What happened: The Pituamkek National Park Reserve in P.E.I. has become Canada’s newest national park after the feds reached an agreement with the province’s Mi’kmaq First Nations. Located on P.E.I.’s northwest shore, the area is known for its coastal sand dunes.

  • Park status ensures the protection of this culturally significant region with its delicate dune ecosystem and endangered species. It also opens up the region for tourism.

Why it matters: Canada’s national parks are a major driver of tourism. In the 2022-23 fiscal year, Parks Canada generated $3.3 billion in visitor spending from both domestic travellers looking for a weekend escape and international ones lured by Canada’s vast wilderness.

Yes, but: Canada’s less-famous parks will have to pick up some slack. Big-name parks like Banff and Jasper, which account for an outsized proportion of visits, are seeing crowds so large that they’re potentially compromising Parks Canada’s main goal: conservation. — Quinn Henderson 

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