A retail bloodletting is hitting the nation as thousands of stores are closing – and the Valley isn’t immune.

How epic are these closures?

Wrap your brain around this: As of April, 8,600 stores were either closed or slated for closure in 2017. That’s more than the worst year on record for closures, in 2008 during the recession, when 6,163 stores shut down, according to CNN Money.

In the first few weeks of June even more closures have been announced, with kids clothing retailer Gymboree – which owns Crazy 8 stores – filing for bankruptcy and planning to close 375 stores.

I think we’re going to have a lot of empty space. River Park and the mall would be the ones I’d be most worried about.

Jeff Green, retail consultant

And the parent company of Lane Bryant, Ann Taylor, Dressbarn, Maurices and several other popular clothing stores plans to close between 250 and 650 stores over the next two years.

More than two dozen companies facing closures have stores in the central San Joaquin Valley. Keep reading to see a list of companies that are closing stores and which retailers might be next.

Why is this happening?

Shoppers increasingly turning to the internet is a major cause. Our country simply has too many physical stores given how many people shop online.

But that’s not the only reason.

In the past, lenders would step in when a retailer filed bankruptcy and revive the stores with a cash infusion. But not during these turbulent times, said Jeff Green, Phoenix-based retail consultant who has worked in the Fresno area.

Many stores also don’t have a strong online presence, he said. And some brick-and-mortar stores haven’t changed with the times – either their clothing or the look of their stores.

43% of online sales last year were through Amazon.com, according to Slice Intelligence.

For example, he said, “If you look at Ann Taylor/LOFT’s format, it’s very, very old. It’s the same format they’ve been using for 15 years. That just doesn’t cut it anymore.”

Also, stores like Forever 21 and H & M have lured away customers from more traditional stores with low prices and rapidly changing styles that other stores can’t keep up with.

Young shoppers also have different priorities, spending money on phones and gadgets instead of clothes.

Good news

Not all are struggling. Discounters like TJ Maxx, Ross and Stein Mart are attracting bargain hunters.

“Those folks are on fire, they’ll be fine,” Green said of the stores.

The brick-and-mortar stores that are attracting customers have one thing in common: They provide an experience. For example, shoppers at the Apple store can play with iPads and customers can try on makeup at cosmetics store Ulta.

Fresno is benefiting from this trend: Ulta is preparing to take over the empty Urban Outfitters store at Fashion Fair; and Sephora will open in River Park.

The future

After these closures – many are happening over a two-year period – the Valley’s shopping scene will be different.

“If [customers] want brick-and-mortar they have to travel further and they may be forced to shop online more often,” Green said.

He predicts shopping centers like River Park and Fashion Fair will have empty stores. Fig Garden Village will likely fair better, he said. It’s already bringing in stores that are new to the Valley and its sophisticated customers will likely welcome online retailers that are starting to open storefronts.

But there’s plenty of pain to go around. Several stores in the Valley have already closed. Others are on the chopping block. And a few have closed stores nationwide, but not here. Here’s where they stand:


Ann Taylor closed its sole location in the central San Joaquin Valley at River Park in January, though it did not appear to be part of a massive closure. Since then Ann Taylor’s parent company, Ascena Retail Group Inc., announced plans to close between 250 and 650 stores.

The Limited, a women’s clothing store,…