Retail Store Closures So Far This Year Already Exceed All of 2018, Says Report

A new study is shedding light on how rapidly retailers are trimming their brick-and-mortar footprints in an increasingly digital age.

A report released today by Coresight Research revealed that year-to-date closures have already exceeded the total number recorded for the whole year of 2018.

The research and advisory firm, which tracks store openings and closings each week, counted 5,994 store closures and 2,641 openings across the United States in just the first 15 weeks of 2019. Last year, for comparison, retailers announced 5,864 closures and 3,239 openings over the course of all 12 months.

“The slowdown we saw in 2018 seems to have been a brief respite in what’s a steady long-term trend,” said Deborah Weinswig, founder and CEO of Coresight Research. “I expect store closures to accelerate in 2019, hitting some 12,000 by year-end.”

Rapidly shifting consumer preferences and the rise of e-commerce are now forcing traditional retailers and brands to invest more heavily in online platforms and trim down their physical footprints.

Bankruptcies and liquidations at Sears and Payless ShoeSource have led to the combined closings of a couple thousand stores, while children’s chain Gymboree and teen brand Charlotte Russe have contributed to 800 and 500 closures, respectively. Even Foot Locker, which reported solid fourth-quarter earnings last month, announced that it would shutter 165 stores around the world this year. (The company has been scaling down its total store count annually since 2014.)

That’s not to say it’s all doom and gloom. A number of retailers have worked on restructuring to cut costs and focus on better-performing stores in an effort to survive the so-called “retail apocalypse.” Beleaguered Sears, for instance, recently announced the openings of three Sears Home & Life stores come May. (The smaller-format spaces will span up to only 15,000 square feet, compared with the department store’s usual 100,000 square feet.)

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