Retail’s footprint is shrinking — and it’s likely not done yet.
As of this week, U.S. retailers have announced 4,810 store closures in 2019, according to new data from retail and technology advisory Coresight Research. This number reflects both headline-grabbing bankruptcies like those of Payless ShoeSource and Sears Holdings, as well as the decisions of numerous companies to trim their store counts in the face of financial pressure and changing consumer habits.
Even healthy businesses are culling their roster. Foot Locker, for one, said this week that it will close 165 stores globally despite a blockbuster earnings report. (It also plans to open 80 new locations, but it has reduced its total store count every year since 2014.)
Gap will also close 230 stores worldwide over the next two years as it spins off Old Navy — its most profitable business — into a separate publicly traded company. L Brands’ declining juggernaut Victoria’s Secret will likewise shutter 50 U.S. locations, while bankrupt chain Charlotte Russe said on Thursday that it will liquidate all of its more than 500 stores rather than the 94 it had originally planned.
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The announcements add to the staggering number of closures announced by Payless ShoeSource last month. The bankrupt discount chain said that it will vacate more than 2,000 stores across the country, in addition to its Canadian locations.
While many mall owners and landlords in less desirable locations are feeling the strain of empty storefronts and lost tenants (particularly in the case of anchor stores like Sears, Macy’s and J.C. Penney), some retailers are still expanding: Coresight has tracked 2,264 store opening announcements this year so far, including some from streaming fitness phenomenon Peloton, American Eagle’s Aerie brand and off-price chain Ross Stores.
During the first 10 weeks of 2018, by comparison, the firm counted 2,160 announced store closures and 1,588 openings.