Most consumers have favorite stores, some places that they know well and have been frequenting for years. That has made the ongoing collapse of many brick-and-mortar retailers in the face of growing e-commerce that much more painful for a lot of people as their familiar, beloved retail institutions start to disappear.
Of course, the impact on consumers is relatively marginal when you compare it to how it affects the store employees or suppliers that find their livelihoods in serious doubt when it is their stores closing. However, with more and more retailers trying to figure out how to avoid going out of business as online shopping eats into their margins, this is one trend that doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon with more and more stores closing in 2019. So, here are 16 of your favorite stores that you should visit while the getting’s good because they might not be around forever.
Last updated: Oct. 11, 2019
Women’s clothing store Chico’s announced in January that it would be shuttering 250 stores by the end of 2021 in an effort to better compete with online retailers. The company has seen business on the decline, with revenue decreasing in each of the last three fiscal years.
If you name your store after an empty space, maybe you shouldn’t be so shocked when you’re hit by a rash of store closures. In late November 2018, CEO Art Peck revealed that the chain that fulfilled all your basic clothing needs was thinking about shutting down underperforming locations “with urgency.” That led to the late February 2019 announcement that there were 230 such locations that would be shuttered and that the company would be splitting its Old Navy label off into a separate company.
J.C. Penney Co.
J.C. Penney Co. might provide some of your favorite affordable goods and clothing, but it still revealed earlier this year that it would be closing three more stores this spring as same-store sales climbed by 3.5 percent for the Christmas season in 2018. However, that could just be the tip of the iceberg: Some analysts are speculating that the chain needs to shutter another 125 of its 860 locations if it hopes to turn around its flagging business.
The phrase “multiple bankruptcies” is almost always one that speaks to a business in a lot of trouble, so Radio Shack’s two Chapter 11 filings in as many years — with the second in 2017 — is a pretty clear sign that the company’s future isn’t exactly bright. About 400 of the chain’s 1,500 prebankruptcy locations reopened last year and the retailer has plans to open about 100 RadioShack Express stores within HobbyTowns.
Sears was on the brink of a painful liquidation process that would have permanently shuttered the American icon earlier this year, but a deal cut by investor Edward Lampert and his hedge fund ESL Investments has saved the remaining 223 Sears and 203 Kmart stores — for now. The current store count of 425 is down from the 1,672 that were around as of January 2016 and the 687 that were open when the store entered bankruptcy proceedings.
Toys R Us
Speaking of stores narrowly avoiding liquidation, Toys R Us also managed to pull its head off the chopping block in recent months. Sort of. For the store that provided many of your favorite childhood memories, the new plan won’t save the 800 stores or 33,000 jobs that were lost when the chain filed for bankruptcy, but the hedge funds that have taken control of the company’s debts got approval for a plan to leverage the Toys R Us brand with pop-up stores in locations like Krogers. But if you were hoping for a deal that would reopen the closed stores prior to next Christmas, don’t hold your breath.
Whatever secret it is that Victoria’s holding onto, it doesn’t appear to be maintaining a profitable business selling lingerie at malls after the advent of online retail. L Brands — the company that owns Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works — announced at the end of February that it would be closing 53 Victoria’s Secret locations over the course of the year — about 4 percent of the 1,143 sites across the globe. That means the existing plans to shutter about 15 stores a year are getting accelerated in the face of a 3 percent decline in same-store sales.
Unlike some other stores that keep finding ways to drag out bankruptcy proceedings for years, Payless ShoeSource appears to be taking the “rip off the bandaid” approach after it announced that it would be closing all 2,100 locations in the U.S. and Puerto Rico earlier this year. But, if you really are still a Payless die-hard, you do have options — the 1,500-or-so stores located outside of the U.S. and Puerto Rico appear poised to remain open.
Many retailers — when faced with sagging sales — might consider slashing prices to attract more business. Unfortunately for the Family Dollar, that’s not exactly an option since it’s already giving you pretty low prices. Family Dollar — which was purchased by Dollar Tree in 2015 — announced in early March that it would be closing 390 locations in an effort to turn around its business.
Struggles for J. Crew certainly isn’t news — the retailer shuttered some 50 stores in early 2017 after weak holiday sales the December prior. But if you were hoping that the effort to revitalize the brand by launching two new collections — Mercantile and Nevereven — was going to change the store’s fortunes, think again. Both lines were discontinued after announcing a deal with Amazon just a few months earlier. Jeez, it’s like they “nevereven” had a chance.
Investors in GNC were likely considering swapping out their vitamins for antacids last year after the nutritional supplement store announced it would close some 200 locations in the face of slumping sales. It’s not an easy time for the vitamin industry, with rival Vitamin World filing for bankruptcy in 2017.
Emphasis on “stop,” at the moment. GameStop had to close 150 stores in 2017 after a staggering 13.6 percent drop in sales worldwide. And even now, sales remain stagnant, profits have wavered and the company is sitting on almost $900 million in debt as of November 2018.
Gymboree announced that it was closing some 350 stores in July 2017 as part of its restructuring in bankruptcy. But, if the goal there was to create a profitable path forward, it appears to have missed the mark. After filing for a second bankruptcy in mid-January, the retailer has plans to close 800 Gymboree and Crazy 8 stores as it shifts its brand’s focus to selling online.
Early 2019 was a busy period for bankruptcy filings among retail stores, and Charlotte Russe was another one joining the party in early February when it announced it was filing for Chapter 11. That was accompanied by news that the chain was looking for a buyer and had plans to close about 94 stores.
Abercrombie & Fitch
Preppy clothing seller Abercrombie & Fitch announced plans to close another 40 stores in its 2019 fiscal year, adding to the 29 it shut down in 2018 and bringing the total to 475 over the last eight years. However, this is one area where that might not be a sign of the coming doom: The store also plans to add or remodel 85 locations over the same period.
Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin-based ShopKo Stores rounds out the list of major retailers declaring bankruptcy in the first few months of 2019 as the retailer filed for Chapter 11 and announced the closure of 251 stores — about 70 percent of its total locations — by mid-May. That comes on the heels of the store selling its pharmacy business to Kroger, CVS Pharmacy and others in December 2018.
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About the Author
Joel Anderson is a business and finance writer with over a decade of experience writing about the wide world of finance. Based in Los Angeles, he specializes in writing about the financial markets, stocks, macroeconomic concepts and focuses on helping make complex financial concepts digestible for the retail investor.