The seemingly weekly drumbeat of retailers either closing stores or filing for bankruptcy is evidence of the ongoing seismic shift in customer demands and expectations, and the failure of many to pivot fast enough to meet them.
Even with all this bad news, many companies have managed to get the memo and stay ahead of the curve, and roughly $10 to $12 of every $100 spent in retail is still going through a physical till. But the pain caused by the closures is undeniable on a number of levels.
“For many, shopping is now ‘digital first, stores maybe,’ so it’s much less going to the mall and much more going online,” said Alan Treadgold, Global Retail Lead for PA Consulting, an innovation and transformation consultancy. “At a local level, the impacts are felt very sharply. A lot of those store closures are of retailers that are big anchor tenants in malls and outlet centers. When they leave, the viability of the entire mall can go with them.”
In 2018 alone, major store closings took place at Destination Maternity, Macy’s, JCPenney, The Bon-Ton Stores, among many others.
One of the biggest blows in 2018 came as Toys R Us announced it was closing all of its 800 stores after filing for bankruptcy protection the previous year. But there is a pulse; former executives have started a new company called TRU Kids. Also, Geoffrey, the well-known mascot for Toys R Us made an appearance this past holiday season in the form of Geoffrey’s Toy Box, a collection of brands at pop-up stores in hundreds of Kroger stores.
In early March, Charlotte Russe announced it was liquidating and closing all stores in the next two months. The apparel retailer hadn’t planned to shut down stores, but this changed when liquidator SB360 Capital Partners won the auction in bankruptcy for the company’s $160 million worth of inventory and other assets.
JCPenney announced in early March it was planning to close 18 full-line stores in the second quarter of 2019, the company had already announced in January it would close three stores this spring. The store closures in the March announcement came after the company announced it would leave the home goods, appliances and furniture categories in an effort to meet customer expectations. Entering into these categories began in 2016.
Gymboree announced it is selling its brands to The Children’s Place and Gap, after announcing in January it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy with plans to close as many as 900 stores under the Gymboree, Janie and Jack and Crazy 8 brands. At the time, Gymboree was looking to sell…