Dead Mall
Rolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio. Nicholas Eckhart
  • More than 12,000 stores are expected to close in 2018 — up from roughly 9,000 in 2017, according to Cushman & Wakefield.
  • A rash of bankruptcy filings and announcements to close stores are expected at the start of the year, when retailers are flush with cash from the holiday season.
  • Among the companies most likely to file for bankruptcy within the next year are Sears, Bon-Ton Stores, Bebe Stores, Destination Maternity Corp., and Stein Mart.
  • The closings would push hundreds of shopping malls to the brink of death.

Retailers are bracing for a fresh wave of store closings in 2018 that is expected to eclipse the rash of closings that rocked the industry last year.

“Landlords are panicking,” said Larry Perkins, the CEO and founder of the advisory firm SierraConstellation Partners. “The last year was pretty apocalyptic from a retail standpoint, and the macro issues haven’t changed. There will continue to be a high degree of bankruptcies and store closures.”

2017 was a record year for both store closings and retail bankruptcies. Dozens of retailers including Macy’s, Sears, and J.C. Penney shuttered an estimated 9,000 stores — far exceeding recessionary levels — and 50 chains filed for bankruptcy.

But there’s still a glut of retail space in the US, and the fallout is far from over.

The number of store closings in the US is expected to jump at least 33% to more than 12,000 in 2018, and another 25 major retailers could file for bankruptcy, according to estimates by the commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield.

Store closures
Cushman & Wakefield

Nearly two dozen major chains including Walgreens, Gap, and Gymboree have already announced plans to close more than 3,600 stores this year.

Many more announcements on closures and bankruptcies are expected in the coming months.

The start of the year is a popular time to announce store closings and bankruptcies because retailers are typically flush with cash after the busy holiday season — and closing stores and filing for bankruptcy are costly.

Among the companies most likely to file for bankruptcy within the next year are…