TORONTO -- The Canadian retail sector was already in trouble before COVID-19, but the pandemic has left it on even shakier ground.

The combination of forced closures, decreased consumer spending and limited rent relief measures has left some retailers unable to maintain their existing operations.

Here is a look at some of the major retail closures announced in Canada in 2020, both before and during the pandemic.

Le Château: After 60 years in operation, the Montreal-based clothing retailer announced on Oct. 23 that it plans to close 123 stores and liquidate all its assets. The closures will lead to the end of about 1,400 jobs – 500 at the company’s head office and 900 store employees.

The retailer says it has spent much of the COVID-19 pandemic trying to refinance or sell the business to a third party that would keep it in operation, but was unsuccessful. The company has since filed for creditor protection.

"We regret the impact this will have on our people and can assure you that we explored all options available to us prior to taking this difficult decision," the company said.

Swimco: Swimwear retailer Swimco is closing its door after 45 years, the family-owned, Calgary-based company announced on its website in October, marking the latest Canadian company to fall victim in what has been an extremely difficult year for retailers. The company operated 19 stores in total, eight in British Columbia, seven in Alberta, two in Manitoba, and one each in Saskatchewan and Ontario. Prior to the pandemic-related closures in March, Swimco had 25 locations in Ontario and Western Canada, according to a court filing. Its online store will remain open, but all sales are final and no returns or gift cards will be accepted.

Garage, Dynamite: Montreal-based Groupe Dynamite, Inc. filed for creditor protection in September under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) and will restructure its business, becoming the latest retailer crippled by the economic fallout of the pandemic.The company behind the Garage and Dynamite store brands said COVID-19 caused an “unsustainable strain” on the business, which includes more than 300 North American stores -- 85 of them located in the United States. It said it was also filing for Chapter 15 bankruptcy in the U.S. The company indicated it would close some stores, but did not specify how many.

Squish: Canadian candy company Squish announced Aug. 13 that it will be closing all of its stores except for its Queen Street West location in Toronto effective immediately. In an email sent to customers, the company said its gourmet candies will continue to be offered online and through its partners. The company said the last few months have forced it to re-evaluate its business and customer experience in malls. Squish opened its first store in 2014 in Laval, Que. and has 19 stores across Canada in addition to one in the U.K.

Mendocino: The Toronto-based women's wear brand announced July 21 that it has filed for insolvency and plans to close its 28 stores across the Greater Toronto Area to focus on online orders as part of its restructuring. The company, which has been operating since 1987, filed a notice of intention on July 14 to make a proposal under Canadian bankruptcy law.

Scholar’s Choice: The educational toys and teaching materials retailer announced on July 10 it was closing 13 stores across the country. Only three stores will remain open – London, Ont., Winnipeg and Moncton – and act as regional sales and distribution centres. Scholar’s Choice also filed for creditor protection through a notice of intention to propose a reorganization plan to restructure the company.

DavidsTea: The Montreal-based beverage retailer announced on July 30 that it would only reopen 18 of its stores in Canada, shuttering 166 Canadian locations and all of its 42 U.S. stores to focus more on its e-commerce business and supplying grocery stores and pharmacies. The company, which has also filed for creditor protection, said the new retail landscape has forced it to “re-evaluate” its business and that the COVID-19 pandemic worsened an already challenging retail market.

Microsoft: The technology company revealed on June 26 that it would be closing nearly all of its 83 physical stores around the world as part of a “strategic change” for its retail business. Microsoft has seven stores in Canada, which will all be closing. Only four locations in London, New York City, Sydney, and Redmond, Wash. will remain as “reimagined” physical spaces.

GNC: Health and nutrition retailer GNC announced June 23 that it has filed for bankruptcy in the U.S. and says it will close at least 29 stores in Canada as part of its restructuring.

The Children's Place: Approximately 200 locations of child clothing store The Children's Place will close this year and 100 more next year in Canada and the U.S., company executives said June 11 on an earnings call.

Starbucks: Filings with U.S. regulators dated June 10 show that Starbucks plans to close 200 Canadian locations as part of a new two-year business plan.

Sail: Outdoor retailer Sail said June 4 that it will close four stores in Quebec and two in Ontario, leaving it with a total of 12 outlets remaining open in the two provinces.

Bestseller Canada: The company that operates Jack & Jones and Vero Moda filed for creditor protection June 2. Retail Insider reported in February that the Canadian subsidiary of the Danish company was shutting five of its Bestseller branded stores. It reported this month that sources indicated all nine Vero Moda locations would be closed and 13 of the 51 Jack and Jones stores would also close.

Thyme Maternity and Addition Elle: Financial woes at Reitmans left the company seeking creditor protection and announcing plans to close all stores under its Thyme Maternity and Addition Elle banners, as was announced June 1.

Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works: L Brands announced May 20 that it will close 13 of the 38 Victoria's Secret stores in Canada, as well as one Bath & Body Works location, as part of a larger restructuring that also affects the company's American operations.

Army & Navy: The 101-year-old Western Canadian department store chain announced in May that it was closing its doors permanently. CEO Jacqui Cohen cited the “unsurmountable” challenges caused by the pandemic. Touted as the country’s first discount department store, the company said it would be closing its five remaining locations in Vancouver, New Westminster, B.C., Langley, B.C., Calgary and Edmonton.

Henry’s: Cranbrook Glen Enterprises Ltd, the parent company of the Toronto-based camera and accessories chain, filed a NOI (Notice of Intention) in May. The company said it plans to close seven of its 29 store locations once COVID-19-related measures were loosened.

Aldo: Montreal-based The Aldo Group said May 7 that it was entering creditor protection. Although the footwear retailer said it will gradually reopen its stores as public health guidelines permit, legal filings reportedly state that an unspecified number of stores are not expected to ever reopen.

Ronsons: The Vancouver-based shoe retailer announced on April 8 that it was in receivership and closing its 18 stores, all of which are located in British Columbia. The company was founded 32 years ago by CEO Tony Aronson and his father.

Pier 1:  Home decor chain Pier 1 announced Feb. 17 that it will close all of its stores in Canada, as the retailer began bankruptcy proceedings in the United States.

Carlton Cards and Papyrus: On Jan. 22, the owner of greeting card retailers including Carlton Cards and Papyrus announced it was closing all of its stores in North America, including 76 Canadian locations.

Bench: The owner of apparel store Bench's Canadian operations confirmed to BNN Bloomberg on Jan. 22 that all 24 locations will be closed.

Ten Thousand Villages: On Jan. 21, fair-trade retailer Ten Thousand Villages announced its plans to shutter many of its stores.

Bose: U.S.-based audio equipment retailer Bose will shutter its 24 remaining Canadian stores as part of the chain’s closure of 119 locations around the world, according to online publication Retail Insider reported in early January.

Things Engraved: On Jan. 14, the head of Kitchener, Ont.-based retailer Things Engraved announced plans to shut all of its 73 stores. CEO Shawn Black told the company had been unprofitable for several years.

Links of London: Luxury brand Links of London had planned a major Canadian expansion as recently as 2016, but only ever opened five stores in the country and announced Jan. 10 that all stores will be closed, according to Retail Insider.

Ann Taylor, Loft and Justice:  The parent company of these brands, New Jersey-based Ascena Retail Group Inc., announced on July 24 that it will close all of its clothing stores in Canada.

According to the company’s website, there are four Ann Taylor, nine Loft and 37 Justice stores in Canada.

The closures are part of Ascena’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in the U.S. and restructuring plans in the wake of the pandemic.

With files from's Jeremiah Rodriguez, Brooklyn Neustaeter and The Canadian Press