If you've been making trips to the U.S. to shop at Target, you'll have the option of staying in Hamilton starting tomorrow — but some are questioning whether the new stores offer enough to keep shoppers on this side of the border.

At 8 a.m. Tuesday morning, the Target stores at Centre Mall and the Flamborough Power Centre in Waterdown are opening to the public as part of Target Canada's plan to launch 24 stores before the end of March.

Three Ontario stores — in Guelph, Fergus and Milton — opened earlier in March and 17 more are opening on Tuesday. Four more are due to open on March 28.

The Centre Mall store's launch is being called a "soft open," which means the company is still testing its processes and looking at what works and what needs to be changed.

Derek Jenkins, senior vice-president of external relations for Target Canada, says the company is seeking to differentiate itself from the existing stores in the United States. Canadian stores will be using mannequins, which the U.S. stores do not have, for example. The Canadian chain will also feature limited-time partnerships with suppliers such as Roots and Hollywood stylist Kate Young.

"If you're Canadian, why would you want to go across and shop there [in the U.S.] anyway?" said Jenkins. "Now you can do that fun day trip without all the travel in between."

He added that the company's competitive pricing and price-match policies should keep consumers shopping in Canada.

"I think you'll feel like you're getting a really good deal," said Jenkins.

Others aren't so sure. Marvin Ryder, a professor of marketing at McMaster University, said consumers who were already familiar with Target are reacting to the fact that Target Canada is not the same as its U.S. counterpart.

"We're already hearing some consumers who knew the store from the United States who have gone and have been a little disappointed," said Ryder. "'Oh yes, nice selection of items but hey, where are those great great prices that I'm used to seeing in the United States?' The prices in the Canadian stores don't seem to quite mirror the prices in the American stores."

Local retail impact

Ryder also said only time will tell what kind of effect Target's presence will have on businesses in Hamilton, adding that some businesses may benefit and others, especially ones that offer the same kinds of products, may suffer.

"The one thing I know for certain, though, is that total retail spending in Canada isn't suddenly going to go up just because Target came to town," said Ryder.

Manish Kacker, another professor of marketing at McMaster who has been watching Target's move into Canada, said the difference in pricing between Canadian and U.S. stores is important for the Hamilton community.

"Consumers in Hamilton are close enough to Buffalo to be familiar with Target USA and they will have some impressions and perceptions of what prices should be," said Kacker.

The Ancaster Meadowlands and South Hamilton Square locations are scheduled to open during the summer of this year, according to the company.