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Canadians stuck with worthless gift cards as Bed Bath & Beyond shutters its stores


A store that has long supplied shoppers with towels, sheets, pots, and pans is now officially out of business in Canada and is continuing to wind down its U.S. operations.

After 52 years in business, Bed Bath & Beyond filed for bankruptcy and closed its 54 Canadian stores four days earlier than planned this week, surprising some customers.

One woman who approached the Markham, Ont., location was turned away disappointed when she saw a sign saying the store was officially closed as she hoped to make one more visit.

“Over the years they hosted so many registries and supplied people with towels, sheets and all the good stuff you need. It’s sad to see them close,” the former customer said.

In a statement, the company said it had "substantially completed its wind-down process in Canada."

"All Canadian Bed Bath & Beyond stores are now closed. We thank our customers for their support," the company said.

Stefanie Vallee of Sudbury, Ont., still has a $100 gift card she was hoping to use, but when she went to a location near her she said she was told it was too late and that the card had no value after March 9.

“It's frustrating and disappointing”, Vallee said, adding she "would like [her] money back or [to] spend it in the store."

Stefanie Vallee was left with a worthless gift card. (Vallee)

At the height of its operations, Bed Bath & Beyond had more than 1,500 stores, including 54 in Canada and a share price of more than 80 dollars U.S. per share. As the company wound down its operations this week, the share price dropped to about 12 cents U.S.

The big box retailer had trouble keeping up with the shift to online shopping and its sales declined during the pandemic, according to Lisa Hutcheson, a retail analyst with J.C. Williams Group.

“They didn't come back from COVID-19 with any kind of pivot or strategy to create that compelling reason for the customer to come back into their stores,” Hutcheson said.

She said the chain was also too focused on coupons and discounts, and that many customers who were often sent 20 per cent off coupons never wanted to pay full price.

"The customer gets taught to never pay full price and they just wait until the next coupon comes," Hutcheson said.

The closure also serves as a lesson for consumers who have gift cards to use them before you lose them, Vallee said.

“It's better to use them as quickly as possible so you’re not stuck in this situation like I am right now with a $100 worthless gift card,” she said.

Analysts say the closure of Bed Bath & Beyond is a sign some big box stores that specialize in one area need to be careful, because if there's not a great reason to visit a store in person, some customers may decide to shop online instead. Top Stories

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