More than 9,300 stores closed last year, and so far at the half-way point of 2020, retailers either have already closed or have announced store closures totaling 9,749, excluding restaurants. Of that total, 5,457 stores are in the fashion sector. And many locations set to go away are brand with a strong presence in the mall.
Expect more store closings to follow in the months ahead. Retailers are now in the process of reopening their stores, and learning if consumers are willing to re-engage with brick and mortar and what they want to buy. Data can determine four-wall profitability, which will influence whether a store gets the thumbs up or thumbs down. Also, many retailers have leases that are set to expire over the next year. Even those that are marginally profitable may end up on the chopping block, if only because it’s cheaper now to exit a lease that’s already set to end than gambling on costly termination fees down the road.
The tally for store closures doesn’t include locations that bankrupt Neiman Marcus might close, but hasn’t yet disclosed. Neiman is expected to close at least one store, its new Manhattan flagship at Hudson Yards. Crushed under a mountain of debt after two leveraged buyouts, the luxury retailer filed its Chapter 11 petition in May. TPG and Warburg Pincus took the upscale retailer private in 2005 for $5.1 billion, later selling the company to Ares Management and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board in 2013 for $6.0 billion.
And then there are the stores operated by Macy’s Inc., which said it planned to close 125 neighborhood stores back in February while another 95 locations are on the chopping block. Many retail experts speculate that the retailer could end up shuttering hundreds of locations, depending on the course of the coronavirus pandemic and how it could impact consumer demand at the brick-and-mortar level.
Lord & Taylor is still up for debate. Two stores have officially closed this year, and the rumbling is that all stores will shut down by the end of the year. New owner Le Tote has not countered the rumors with any denials, and the retailer’s Twitter account appears to be disabled, with the last tweet on Feb. 23.
All in all, the mall and other shopping centers will look noticeably different in the years to come. Separate from fashion retailers, many other mall stores are set to close doors as well. Vitamin and nutrition chain GNC Holdings, a fixture at many malls, filed for Chapter 11 in June and is planning to close up to 1,200 locations. Ubiquitous coffee cafe Starbucks and Bath & Body Works, two other common mall installations, each plan to close up to 450 doors combined. Another hard-hit group is the greeting-card sector, much of which is attributed to the decline in mall-based retail as consumers shift to online shopping coupled with faster forms of communication such as social media, e-mail and instant messaging. Papyrus shut down all 254 stores across North America, including 178 in the U.S., after its parent firm Schurman Fine Paper filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy court protection in January, and Hallmark has closed 16 stores in the first half. Other closures include 200 Bed Bath & Beyond stores, 936 Pier 1 Imports doors as it winds down operations after failing to find a buyer in bankruptcy, and 320 GameStop locations, many of which are located in malls as its consumers have embraced digital gaming.
And once retailers get a better handle on what the “new normal” might mean, they will likely disclose additional doors to be shuttered when it’s time to report second-and third-quarter earnings.
The coronavirus pandemic, which forced nonessential retailers to temporary close their doors, obviously played a role in the rash of stores set for closure as consumers shifted their spend to digital. Many retailers that are in the process of reopening their stores may never open some of the doors that were shuttered. But the reality is that the virus merely accelerated what should have been a higher rate of store closures in years past, particularly given the rise in e-commerce. The U.S. is largely over-stored, especially in a marketplace where the e-commerce channel keeps stealing market share from brick-and-mortar.
But let’s not forget the leveraged buyouts from years past that already saw the likes of Toys “R” Us, Gymboree and The Sports Authority ending up in bankruptcy court and then ultimately liquidating the original operations. Many of the retailers closing doors now are in bankruptcy due to an LBO, with the coronavirus impact exacerbating an already unmanageably high debt load.
Below is a list of the fashion retailers that are closing stores so far, covering mostly the first half of 2020:
RTW Retailwinds Inc.
Number: up to 378 retail and outlet locations
Backstory: The company, which operates women’s apparel chains under the nameplates New York & Co., Fashion to Figure and Happy x Nature, on Monday filed a voluntary Chapter 11 petition for bankruptcy court protection. The company said it expects to “close a significant portion, if not all, of its brick-and-mortar stores, and that it has already started a store closing and liquidation process.”
Backstory: The storied seller of American apparel and accessories filed for bankruptcy court protection in July, and is in the process of securing a buyer for the company. It is also closing three factories next month that allowed it to lay claim to the “Made in America” tagline.
Number: 170 locations
Backstory: The Swedish fast-fashion chain decided to increase the number of stores it plans to close to 170 from 130 after posting a 23 percent drop in first-half revenues.
Number: 100 stores globally, primarily across North America and China
Backstory: Sales productivity across its store network has fallen during the pandemic, and lease expirations give the company flexibility to downsize its retail footprint.
The Children’s Place
Number: 300 locations
Backstory: The store closures are projected to be completed by the end of fiscal year 2021, although 200 of those doors are expected to take place in the current fiscal year, as the retailer places a greater focus on digital commerce. The balance of 100 doors will close in 2021.
Number: 1,200 stores, or up to 600 stores annually in 2020 and 2021
Backstory: After reporting its first-ever quarterly loss in Q1, the Zara owner is focusing on store optimization as it works to integrate its store and online business.
G-III Apparel Group Ltd.
Number: 110 Wilson’s and 89 G.H. Bass stores
Backstory: The company restructured its retail operations after deciding to focus on its wholesale operation and its DKNY and Karl Lagerfeld Paris businesses.
Chico’s FAS Inc.
Number: up to 50 to 60 doors
Backstory: The closures are part of the 250 locations the retailer said last year that it will shutter over a three-year period. About 50 were closed in 2019. The company said when it posted first-quarter earnings that it has already closed 9 stores in the quarter ended May 4. The company has three core nameplates: Chico’s, White House Black Market and Soma.
Number: 242 doors
Backstory: The mass merchant plans to whittle down its store base to 604 doors but there’s little certainty that it will exit bankruptcy as a going concern.
Number: 67 locations
Backstory: The preppy chain, along with its Madewell concept, filed a bankruptcy petition in May. While it plans to reopen nearly 500 doors after temporary COVID-19 shutdowns, the retailer is looking to get out of 67 store leases.
Diane von Furstenberg
Number: 18 locations
Backstory: The fashion brand is closing 18 of its stores, leaving just one open in New York City’s Meatpacking District. The brand is refocusing its business to an e-commerce model in the U.S. and Europe, and will continue with wholesale operations in China. The DVF Studio division in the U.K. in May filed for administration, the equivalent of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition in the U.S.
Number: 16 full-line and all 3 Jeffrey stores
Backstory: The retailer is restructuring its business following the impact from the coronavirus, with the closures “based on the needs of each market.” The company has also been reducing expenses by restructuring regions, support roles and its corporate organization. Sources say layoffs could be deeper than expected at the department store retailer.
Number: 250 locations across the U.S. and Canada, including 238 in the U.S.
Backstory: L Brands is restructuring the brand after Sycamore Partners backed out of a deal to acquire a 55 percent majority stake in the lingerie chain.
Stage Stores Inc.
Number: 738 doors
Backstory: A bankruptcy in May had the company liquidating 550 reopened stores. The retailer, which plans to liquidate its remaining stores as they are able to reopen, was in the middle of converting its department stores to its off-price nameplate Gordmans. The company is also in the process of selling its assets.
Lord & Taylor
Number: up to 38 stores
Backstory: The retailer has closed two locations, However, there have been rumblings that the remaining store network of nearly 40 doors are at risk due to a possible bankruptcy filing.
Number: 61 stores, including 11 in Ireland
Backstory: After closing 22 stores in the beginning of the year, the retailer declared insolvency in April. It is slated to close 28 of its 142 U.K. stores next year, and will liquidate all 11 doors in Ireland.
Number: up to 18 locations
Backstory: The British lifestyle brand filed for administration in the U.K. in mid-March. In April, certain assets including the brand’s intellectual property were acquired by Gordon Brothers, which is exploring the chain’s options.
Number: about 20
Backstory: The luxury department store said in March that it will close most of its 22 off-price Last Call concepts. It will keep a few to move inventory from the full-price stores. Neiman subsequently filed for bankruptcy court protection, but hasn’t yet said whether it plans to shutter any of its full-price locations.
Modell’s Sporting Goods
Number: 153 stores
Backstory: The company closed some stores and then filed a petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy court protection in March, only to shut down due to COVID-19. In June, the remaining 107 stores reopened to begin going-out-of business sales.
Number: 125 stores
Backstory: The store closures are part of a routine review of the Macy’s brick-and-mortar base. Another 95 ,and possibly hundreds, are expected to close.
Number: up to 230 locations
Backstory: The company’s three main nameplates are its core Gap chain, Banana Republic and Old Navy. The current plan, disclosed in 2018, is to shutter about half of its Gap-branded stores through 2021. In January, the retailer said it has closed 89 locations, including 56 stores in the U.S. It plans to shutter a total of 230 by the end of next January. Separately, the company also plans to open new doors under its Old Navy and Athleta nameplates. Separately, the company in June said it will shutter men’s active apparel brand Hill City as it prioritizes its resources and focus on its larger brands.
Number: 3 stores
Backstory: The mass discounter has closed three stores, one in Michigan and two in North Carolina.
Number: 100 doors
Backstory: About 31 stores are already closed and it plans another 35 by the end of January. The company’s fleet rationalization includes the nine doors closed in 2019. Another 25 doors could close in 2022, bringing the total number to 100 locations.
Number: 4 stores by the end of 2020
Backstory: Acquired in mid-January by streetwear platform New Guards Group, the label will cultivate its brand instead of operating as a multi-brand retailer.
Number: 23 doors
Backstory: The U.K. department store declared insolvency in January. A month later, it shuttered 12 of its 23 locations. However, the chain couldn’t find a buyer and the coronavirus outbreak forced the remaining 11 locations closed.
Number: 51 stores
Backstory: The retailer, a nameplate operating under the umbrella of corporate parent Transform Holdco, said in November it was closing 51 stores in February.
Number: 45 locations
Backstory: The discounter is part of the corporate holding of Transform Holdco, which said in November that it would shutter 45 locations in February.
Number: 1 store
Backstory: The retailer closed its store at The Falls, a mall in south Miami-Dade, in January after 35 years in operation.
Christopher & Banks
Number: up to 40 doors
Backstory: The company said last year that it plans to shutter up to 40 doors in 2020, part of a renewed focus on e-commerce.
Number: 76 stores
Backstory: The struggling athletic footwear and apparel chain was sold to sports retailer JackRabbit last year, which elected to keep just 75 Olympia Sports store locations open. That meant that the balance of 76 stores will close this year.
Number: 207 stores globally, including 101 locations in the U.S.
Backstory: The mall-based fast-fashion chain filed its Chapter 11 petition in September. It had initially planned to shutter 350 stores globally, including 178 doors in the U.S. At the time, the chain had 549 U.S. stores and 251 overseas. Most of those locations were slated to close in 2020, following the holiday season that ended Feb. 2. The company was acquired for $81 million in February by a joint venture comprised of Authentic Brands Group and Simon Property Group–each owning 37.5 percent of the intellectual property and operating business–and Brookfield Property Partners, which has a 25 percent stake in the IP and operating company.
Number: 90 locations
Backstory: The maternity wear retailer filed a Chapter 11 petition in October and was slated to shutter 183 of its 436 doors. It was subsequently acquired by brand management firm Marquee Brands in December for $50 million. Part of that transaction included the closure of the retailer’s remaining 235 stores.