U.S. retailers to date have announced planned 2019 closings of more than 6,500 doors, a number that–through just the middle of the second quarter–has already passed the total number of 5,864 stores shuttered in 2018.
The retail doors slated for closure cut across all consumer categories, including softlines, hardlines, furniture, groceries and electronics. And there’s more, much more, to come over the next few years. Coresight Research last week projected that “U.S. store closures could reach 12,000 by the end of 2019.”
Sourcing Journal has been tracking the store count, and so far many retailers have closed doors either because of a restructuring as part of a turnaround plan, such as Vera Bradley or Gap Inc., or because they have elected to shut down operations, such as the Gymboree and Payless ShoeSource liquidations. A few, such as Walmart Inc., have decided to close a small number of underperforming locations as a routine check on store performance.
But if anyone thinks that with so many stores being closed over the past few years that the end may be in sight, they likely would be wrong.
UBS equity analyst Michael Lasser last month predicted that at least 75,000 retail doors, excluding food, will have to be closed by 2026 if e-commerce penetration grows to 25 percent from the current level of 16 percent. “For every 100 basis point increase in online penetration, 8,000 to 8,500 stores would need to close,” the analyst said. In financial parlance, 100 basis points is the equivalent of 1 percent. And as for which retail subsectors need to close the most stores, Lasser said apparel retailers head his list, with a projection of 21,000 stores, or 17 percent of the retail store base. Consumer electronics is next at 10,000 doors, or 22 percent, followed by home improvement at 8,000 locations, or 18 percent.
In Lasser’s analysis, department store sales have fallen 33 percent since their peak in 2005, even though the store count rose 23 percent from 2006 to 2016. While he’s anticipating additional store closures and bankruptcies in the coming years, the analyst also said that the department store channel is losing fewer customers to the off-pricers. And he expects that sales will stabilize for Macy’s Inc. and Kohl’s Corp. as they do a “better job retaining their customers.”
He expects sales at apparel retailers to grow, although that growth is skewed because of gains at the off-price sector. Both the off-pricers and the specialty retailers are counted in the apparel retail group.
One caveat to all the store closure announcements is that retailers haven’t stopped opening new doors–they’re just not opening as many. Coresight’s tally has U.S. retailers saying so far that they are planning 2,671 store openings in 2019.
Sourcing Journal stories from February and March listed some of the known retailers that had announced store closures, focusing primarily on apparel retailers. Below is an updated list of retailers planning to close doors and includes non-apparel focused retailers to illustrate the current breadth of store closures.
Stores cut: 8 stores.
Backstory: The locations disclosed on Jan. 10 are part of 100 planned closures that the retailer announced in August 2016.
Stores cut: 160 in 2019.
Backstory: Although the fast-fashion chain said on Feb. 4 that it plans to close 160 doors this year, it will open 355 new stores as well.
Stores cut: 22 locations.
Backstory: The supermarket chain on Feb. 22 said it would close 22 doors. That announcement came less than a year after exiting Chapter 11 proceedings, during which it closed 130 stores.
Stores cut: all 104 locations.
Backstory: Word surfaced on March 2 that all doors would be closed. Its parent company, Advanced Sports Enterprises, had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy court protection last fall.
Stores cut: 390 locations.
Backstory: Parent company Dollar Tree said on March 7 that it would pare back the store count at Family Dollar, hoping that the move would help improve its bottom line.
Stores cut: 21 locations.
Backstory: The furniture retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy court protection on March 11, and identified 21 doors for closure on March 21.
Stores cut: up to 50 of its 110 locations by 2021.
Backstory: The retailer said on March 13 when it posted fourth-quarter earnings that the full-line store cuts are part of its three-year plan dubbed Vision 20/20. There are no plans to close any of its 52 outlet stores.
LifeWay Christian Resources
Stores cut: all 170 stores.
Backstory: The religious book store retailer said on March 20 it will close all brick-and-mortar sites so it can focus on its online business.
Stores cut: 12 total.
Backstory: Word surfaced around March 26 that the company is planning to close 4 Supercenters and 8 Neighborhood Market stores.
Ascena Retail Group Inc.
Stores cut: up to 667 stores this year.
Backstory: Ascena has already closed 160 doors so far, with another 268 doors expected to be shuttered by July, the company said on March 28. It operates stores under the Ann Taylor, Loft, Lane Bryant and Dress Barn nameplates. The company just sold a majority stake in Maurices.
Stores cut: 8 doors and 4 outlets.
Backstory: The company shuttered its U.S. operations on March 29, with plans to liquidate the business. The Italian fashion house has sought court approval in Milan for a restructuring plan.
Signet Jewelers Ltd.
Stores cut: 150 locations.
Backstory: The company said on April 3 that doors to be closed will be under the Kay Jewelers, Zales and Jared The Galleria of Jewelry nameplates during fiscal 2020. In fiscal 2019, the company shuttered 262 stores under all three nameplates plus Piercing Pagoda. Sales have been disappointing and the closures will be focused primarily in mall locations.
Stores cut: 159 stores.
Backstory: The chain said on April 11 it would close nearly one-third of its stores under its Fred’s Dollar Store nameplate. All doors are expected to be shuttered by the end of May. On Monday it posted disappointing fourth-quarter results and, given its financial pressures, the company said in a regulatory filing that it was considering the sale of non-core assets.
Bed Bath & Beyond Inc.
Stores cut: 40 doors.
Backstory: The home retailer said April 12 that the closures are part of its turnaround strategy.
Pier 1 Imports Inc.
Stores cut: 45 so far.
Backstory: The company said on April 18 when it posted a fourth-quarter loss that it would close 45 stores, but noted that the count could rise to 145 locations.
Office Depot Inc.
Stores cut: 50 doors.
Backstory: The office supply big box said on April 22 that it would close 50 doors under its Office Depot and Office Max nameplates.
Stores cut: 14 stores out of a total of 25 planned for 2019.
Backstory: The company on April 30 reported first quarter results, noting that it has already shuttered 14 stores. The company also said it opened four stores in the quarter, with a total of 45 new locations planned for 2019.
CVS Health Corp.
Stores cut: 46 locations.
Backstory: The drugstore chain said May 2 that it was rationalizing its store base as it shifts its business away from stores towards health care services.
Francesca’s Holdings Corp.
Stores cut: up to 40 stores.
Backstory: The Houston-based retail chain said on May 3 it would close at least 20 stores and up to 40 doors. The retailer in January said it was exploring strategic alternatives, including a sale of the company. Steven Lawrence has since resigned as chief executive officer.