Express to Shutter 100 Stores Amid Declining Sales, Broader Retail Challenges

Express is the latest retailer to anticipate a slew of store closures within the next couple years.

The apparel and accessories chain has announced that roughly 100 outposts will shutter by 2022 — nine of those were already closed last year. Another 31 locations are expected to shut down this month, 35 more by the end of January 2021 and the remainder over the course of 2022.

The move is part of Express’ “fleet rationalization” plan as the Columbus, Ohio-based company continues to face broader retail challenges, including a decline in foot traffic and heavy competition from fast-fashion rivals as well as the rise in e-commerce.

Today, the retailer narrowed its fourth-quarter guidance, forecasting earnings per share in the range of 17 cents to 19 cents on an adjusted basis and comparable sales roughly 3% down. Its Q4 and full-year report is expected during the week of March 9.

Along with the updated outlook, Express unveiled a new corporate strategy, which outlines initiatives that include driving customer retention and acquisition through the relaunch of its loyalty program and private-label credit card in the fall; optimizing inventory and enhancing omnichannel capabilities; and developing a curated assortment of product dubbed The Express Edit.

“We are focused on profitable growth,” CEO Tim Baxter said in a statement. “This will, of course, take some time, but we have a clear path.”

As of November, Express had 411 mall-based locations and 215 outlet stores. The company joins fellow chains such as JCPenney, Opening Ceremony and Macy’s that have confirmed closures as the retail landscape continues to force retailers to prioritize better-performing stores in an effort to safeguard their margins.

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