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All National Sports stores in Canada are closing down for good

Those with fond memories of visits to homegrown retailer National Sports will want to hold those recollections near to their hearts today, as it ha...

Those with fond memories of visits to homegrown retailer National Sports will want to hold those recollections near to their hearts today, as it has just been revealed that all of the company's stores in Canada are permanently shuttering.

Whether it was your first set of equipment after you signed up for a team, a pair of runners for gym class, or a simple skate sharpening at the start of winter, if you were a kid in Ontario, National Sports was the place you went for all things physical activity-related.

Bummer. National sports was where i was introduced to @UnderArmour T’s back in 2005. They were selling this unknown brand for like ($10.00) a shirt back then. Game changer of a sports store for Canadians.

— Kyle Magowan (@WKLM31) February 18, 2021

The news broke during a meeting with investors on Thursday, with the executive vice-president and chief financial officer for parent company Canadian Tire confirming that all 18 locations across the province will be closing their doors forever.

He called it "a difficult decision" on a conference call and said that the Canadian Tire will be "making every effort to place affected employees within our family of companies," which includes brands like SportChek, Mark's and Atmosphere.

Tough one. This was my first job when i was 15, and i worked there until literally last year sharpening skates and selling hockey/baseball equipment. I loved every second of it and credit a lot of who i am to that job.

— Leafs Burner (@burner_leaf) February 18, 2021

Though retailers have understandably been struggling immensely amid the health crisis, the move seems a bit counterintuitive given that Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd. today announced "outstanding" sales and growth during the last quarter of 2020, outpacing numbers from the same time in 2019, with a revenue of a staggering $4.87 billion.

It is apparently part of Canadian Tire's plan to "increase operational efficiencies" and hone their focus given that National Sports does have some overlap with the company's other outlets.

"[It] just wasn't a core asset for us... We just couldn't find a continued purpose," the CFO said, per the Canadian Press.

Sad. I loved National Sports Big 60 sales. I remember going in after midnight for specials on hockey equipment. Always looked forward to that sale.

— Break80 (@joekool59) February 18, 2021

Ontarians have been taking to social media to wax nostalgic about the banner, which has been around in some form since 1968.

As the National Sports website states, it aimed to be not just a sports shop, but a centre for sports communities; "a place they can go for resources, counsel, expertise and support."

So they collected CEWS, paid dividends to shareholders, recorded a very strong year of retail and online sales, and now they're closing stores. I guess there was room for immediate improvement.

A pandemic slows down everything but capitalism.

— All Hands & The Cook (@AllHandsCook) February 18, 2021

No word yet on when, exactly, the stores — including locations in Brampton, Mississauga, Hamilton, Newmarket, Barrie and Oakville — will officially shut down and vacate.

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