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Saks Fifth Avenue wants to know its customers in 'high touch' personal shopping

TORONTO — When Saks Fifth Avenue arrives in Canada next year, the luxury retailer plans to get to know your every taste.

From pinning down clothing size to shopping preferences — even what you've bought previously at its U.S. stores — the company plans to have it all tucked away to better serve its clients.

It's part of what company president Marc Metrick calls the "high touch" experience, a growing trend in the retail industry where white-glove personalization isn't just an option, it's often an expectation.

"The consumer is beginning to move towards experiential spending," Metrick said Tuesday in an interview.

"The role of the department store is going to change."

As more shoppers turn to e-commerce websites for luxury goods, Saks is hoping to shift the tide by offering reasons to come back into its stores.

Part of that means taking the personal touch that has existed in luxury retail for years and improving on the concept.

"Time is probably the greatest commodity right now for the consumer," Metrick said.

"If you're not empowering yourself with information, you're making the shopping experience clunkier for the consumer than they're getting at home or on their mobile device."

All of this comes with the higher price of brand-name goods, but Metrick expects that 2016 will signal the starting point for a new era of luxury shopping in Canada.

Saks is just one of several retailers betting that Canadians are ready to spend more for higher quality and reputable brands.

In February, the retailer will make its debut with a flagship store at Queen and Yonge, part of Toronto's high-traffic tourism area. Another location will open at Sherway Gardens, just west of Toronto, a week later.

Saks has said there's room for another five to seven locations across the country in other key urban centres.

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David Friend, The Canadian Press

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