America's Vaunted Retail Sector Now Bleeds With Massive Shutdowns

FILE PHOTO: An employee walks inside a Walmart store in Mexico City, Mexico March 28, 2019. Picture taken March 28, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Edgard Garrido/File Photo)

America's brick and mortar continue to struggle as an estimated 12,000 retail stores could close by the end of 2019.

But if the carnage in the United States' retail landscape seemed bad last year, it pales in comparison to the damage it is suffering these days.

There have already been 20% more store shutdowns announced this year than in the fall of 2018, according to a new report from global marketing research agency Coresight Research.

More than 7,400 shops are expected to shut down in the coming months, according to Coresight, with thousands of locations already leaving the business.

Last year, 5,864 stores shut down, and 3,258 opened. Beyond the glass and glitter adorning main avenues across the U.S., the collateral damage in terms of employment lost is another story.

For instance, Challenger, Gray & Christmas had to let go of 53,248 workers through June, compared to 98,563 for all of last year. And that is just one side of the coin.

Footwear company Payless ShoeSource, which recently filed for bankruptcy and closed its remaining U.S. stores in late June this year, accounts for an estimated 37% of the total shutdown.

Internal bleeding

Coresight said the square footage of retail space per person in the U.S. exceeds those in comparable Western economies, with 23.5 square feet of retail space a person here, compared to 11.1 square feet of retail space per person in Australia, and 16.4 square feet per person in Canada.

Here's a quick look at some of the biggest retailers that have shut down their operations:

- Regional discount chain Fred's announced Friday that it was pulling the plug on another 129 retail branches

- Charming Charlie Holdings recently disclosed it would shut down its remaining 261 stores after filing for bankruptcy

- Children's clothing retailer Gymboree closed 749 outlets after going bankrupt in January

- Women's clothing chain Dressbarn announced in May that it was closing, a move that resulted in the closure of 661 shops.

- Women's apparel seller Charlotte Russe, after filing for bankruptcy, announced last March a "going out of business" sale at more than 400 locations.

- Also in March, general-merchandise retailer Shopko Stores closed down its remaining 371 stores

- Office Depot has also pulled the plug on 50 shops this year

- Discount chain Kmart, owned by Sears, has already shut down 50 stores so far this year.

- Pharmacy chain CVS has closed 46 shops in recent months

- Victoria's Secret announced in February it would shut down 53 stores this year

© 2019 Business Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
Sign Up for Newsletters and Alerts