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A customer leaves one of the discount retail chain Target's 133 stores in Canada at the St. Albert, Alberta, location January 15, 2015. Target Corp said Thursday it will cease operations in Canada and has filed for creditor protection for its Canadian subsidiary in a surprise move that could put its 17,600 employees in the country out of work.

DAN RIEDLHUBER/REUTERS

Customers and employees at a Target location in northeast Toronto were in shock on Thursday morning over the announcement that Target Corp. plans to close its Canadian stores.

Customer Donna Hyatt, who says she comes into the store at the East York Town Centre occasionally, said she was the one to break the news.

"I talked to an employee in there, and she said it was only a rumour. But then I showed her the news on my phone. She was in shock," Ms. Hyatt said. "What a way to find out. No internal memo or anything."

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Ms. Hyatt said a manager she spoke to was more calm, saying, "These things happen."

Employees at the store appeared not to have been told all outlets are closing. They did not want to comment on the news.

"It's foolish," customer Jane Johnson said of the company's decision. "I don't think they gave it enough time for them to figure out what Canadians need."

Hresa Chatz came to the store with a friend because she said the prices are competitive and it is closer than the nearest Walmart, but she added the announcement of the closings was not a surprise.

"In comparison to Walmart, there is no comparison," Ms. Chatz said. "It's not nearly as busy as Walmart."

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