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Rent the Runway Shutters Physical Retail Stores For Good

Women’s apparel and accessory subscription giant Rent the Runway is the latest victim of the coronavirus crisis.

Retailers and brands across the board are facing headwinds due to lingering store closures and a pullback on consumer spending. Now, the 11-year-old company that popularized the clothing rental model is shuttering its physical retail stores—permanently.

According to a report from CNBC on Friday, the company is refocusing its efforts on its digital operations, given that most shoppers are still spending the bulk of their time at home. RTR is also committed to augmenting its network of drop-off locations, giving members a convenient way to return their rented wares.

The company told the outlet that its New York City flagship store—which served as a venue for drop-offs, styling services, and picking out new clothing and accessories for rental—would be converted into a drop-off location. RTR’s brick-and-mortar locations in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. have been permanently closed.

The company first announced the temporary closure of its physical retail locations in March, as the pandemic swept the nation and kept consumers out of stores. RTR’s value proposition, which relies on providing women an ever-rotating array of garments and accessories to sate their need for newness, has also become increasingly less relevant as the months wear on. Shoppers who once opted for the company’s Unlimited plan, which promises the ability to “Unlock an Endless Wardrobe” for plans ranging from $69-159 a month, are now finding themselves wearing the comfiest, least glamorous portions of their closets on repeat.

Anushka Salina, the company’s chief operating officer, told CNBC that though RTR’s strategy is shifting, having a physical presence has always been important. That strategy will now revolve around drop-off locations, she said. So far, the company has partnered with Nordstrom, WeWork and West Elm, installing venues for subscribers to drop off their rented goods in those locations.

In late 2019, Nordstrom opened up it’s burgeoning relationship with the rental service, expanding its fleet of drop-off-enabled stores from five to 29 in popular markets across the country. At the time, Jamie Nordstrom, president of Nordstrom stores, said the company had received “great feedback” from RTR subscribers in the Los Angeles region.