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Retail’s Biggest Layoffs of 2016

The year was one of consolidation as the retail sector starts to realize two things: many stores are too big for their own good and consumers aren’t using stores as they used to.

Now retailers are looking to streamline their operations and offerings, and for many, that has meant letting workers go.

Here are the retailers that cut back on their staff in 2016.

American Apparel

American Apparel filed for bankruptcy for the second time last month and is now fighting one battle after another as its run comes to an end.

Early in December, the retailer notified factory workers of 3,500 potential layoffs.

EDD’s Warn Report was sent to 332 employees in Garden Grove, California, 959 in South Gate and 2,166 employees at American Apparel’s Los Angeles headquarters. Analysts said the potential layoffs would be detrimental to Southern California’s apparel manufacturing sector, which has already been on a downward spiral in recent years.

The Limited

News reports in November said The Limited Stores hired financial advisers to explore a potential sale and now the retailer says it will shutter its home office and let go of the staff employed there.

The Columbus-based womenswear purveyor filed a notice with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services explaining that it would lay off up to all 248 employees at its headquarters and close the facility in the face of sluggish sales.

Kit and Ace

Technical apparel company Kit and Ace experienced some difficulties after poor performance.

The company, launched by Lululemon founder Chip Wilson’s wife Shannon and son J.J., announced plans in September to cut 20 percent of its 280 head office staff, The Vancouver Sun reported. In addition, J.J. Wilson is no longer a Kit and Ace executive.

According to media reports, Kit and Ace’s staff members were notified about the layoffs Wednesday. The fresh round of cuts followed a move earlier this year to nix 10 percent of the head office staff.

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Walmart revealed an extensive restructuring plan in September that eliminates thousands more jobs sooner than previously anticipated.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retail giant revealed that roughly 7,000 desk jobs would be wiped out over the next several months in all of its 4,600 U.S. stores. Walmart said the decision is part of its continued efforts to cut costs and put more people on the shop floor, after a pilot program announced in June did away with roughly 1,500 accounting, invoicing and other behind-the-scenes tasks at 500 U.S. stores. At the time Walmart said it would consider the next phase if the first go-round was successful.


A better than expected second quarter at womenswear retailer Chico’s FAS wasn’t enough to save 200 jobs.

The Fort Myers, Florida-based operator of Chico’s, White House Black Market and lingerie label Soma announced Tuesday that it had reduced its total corporate and field leadership headcount by 13 percent. The layoffs were necessary to create a flatter, more nimble organization, the company said, and expected to save roughly $25 million before tax annually.

News of the cuts followed the release of Chico’s earnings in its second quarter ended July 30. Profits jumped from $2.1 million or 2 cents per diluted share last year to $23 million or 17 cents per diluted share.

Neiman Marcus

After laying off 500 employees, or 3 percent of its workforce in 2015, Neiman Marcus said in August that it had to further trim its staff.

Roughly 80 positions were purged—50 of which were in the Dallas area—as Neiman Marcus continues to combine online and store operations, Dallas News reported.

The layoffs followed a hefty 81 percent decline in profits in the third quarter, as revenues dropped 4.2% to $1.17 billion and comparable store sales slipped by 5 percent. CEO Karen Katz called the quarter “challenging” and attributed the poor performance to a trifecta of complications: the strong dollar, falling foot traffic and decreasing oil prices.

Sports Authority

Naturally, with Sports Authority going out of business, all of its jobs went with it.

The end of Sports Authority’s operations came quicker than expected. After filing for bankruptcy in March, Sports Authority in July instructed all workers to begin store closing procedures and permanently lock up locations, while the retailer enters into the final stages of bankruptcy.

Although CEO Michael Foss’s May 25 letter told customers that all stores would close by the end of August, the abrupt move signaled a quicker end for Sports Authority. Store managers who participated in a conference call in early July were told that the retailer’s 14,000 jobs would be gone by the end of the month.


Nordstrom laid off 120 members of its technology team in March, adding to the 10 cuts it made in earlier in the month.

The company confirmed the news in a statement to GeekWire on Friday, revealing that the layoffs were part of a restructuring process that’s been in the works for at least seven months.

“We have had people impacted at the vice president, the director and the senior director levels, and other levels,” spokeswoman Tara Darrow told GeekWire, noting that some roles have changed, while others have been eliminated.


Struggling specialty chain Aéropostale in January revealed plans to cut about 100 corporate jobs by the end of the month, reducing its head-office headcount by 13 percent.

The once-popular teen retailer said the layoffs are part of “an aggressive new cost reduction program targeting both direct and indirect spending across the organization,” which it expects to generate annual pre-tax savings of as much as $40 million in fiscal 2016.

Eddie Bauer

Outdoor clothing and lifestyle company Eddie Bauer eliminated more than 300 jobs when it shut a distribution and call center operation in Groveport, Ohio.

The layoffs were announced in January when the retailer filed a notice with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, outlining its plan to close the call center at 6600 Alum Creek Drive on March 7, cutting 116 jobs.

A further 195 workers were slated to lose their jobs at the distribution center between April 18 and May 31, while four employees in the IT department were to be let go between March 7 and June 15.