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Ottawa shoppers flock to Nordstrom as liquidation sale begins

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Ottawa shoppers lined up outside the city's two Nordstrom locations Tuesday morning ahead of the start of a liquidation sale.

Dozens of people were lined up outside Nordstrom in the Rideau Centre and Nordstrom Rack at Ottawa Train Yards in anticipation of savings when the stores opened at 10 a.m.

"I have no idea what to expect. I'm just checking it out," one shopper told CTV News outside Nordstrom Rack. "What percentage off are they going to offer? I'm hoping it's more like 40 per cent and 50 per cent."

The U.S.-based high-end department store chain announced earlier this month it would cease Canadian operations.

On Monday, Nordstrom got permission from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to start selling off merchandise. Liquidation efforts are expected to be finished by late June.

Furniture, fixtures and equipment will be liquidated alongside most of Nordstrom's merchandise, but goods from third parties aren't part of the sale because they were removed from stores over the weekend.

Many left empty-handed, saying the discount ranged between 5 and 20 per cent on regular-priced items.

Those looking for a deal will have to be patient as experts say the low discount is typical of liquidations and will gradually ramp up as we approach the closing date.

"The main reason I came, I’m trying to support the people (employees) and try to cheer them up and say goodbye to people I’ve gotten to know over the years," said Christine Cumming, one of the first people in line at Nordstrom Rack.

When Nordstrom announced its closure in March, it expected 2,500 workers across Canada to lose their jobs. CTV Ottawa obtained a letter notifying employees their last day is June 13 and will be paid until then.

Nordstrom is not the only big retail brand shutting its doors. Foot Locker announced its plan to close 400 North American stores by 2026, relaunching to appeal to younger shoppers who one retail expert says are drawn to online shopping.

"The department store model traditional big box store is in significant decline," said retail analyst Bruce Winder. "It’s just so easy and convenient to order online and have it delivered."

He says malls and landlords will have to start thinking out of the box and brainstorm ways to draw people in through entertainment or experiential tenants.

- with files from Jackie Perez, CTV News Ottawa, and The Canadian Press

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