Retailers close, but there’s room for optimism

Closing shop

Is this a bad year for retail? The number of store closures would suggest so, but that metric masks an optimistic picture for retailers doing it right. U.S. retailers have announced 8,579 closures this year, eclipsing the 5,844 closings for all of 2018, according to Coresight Research. By the end of the year, Coresight estimates closures could reach 12,000. But only a handful of retailers account for most of the closings, many of them mall-based chains that are overleveraged, expanded their square footage too quickly or failed to leverage online shopping. Four retailers account for nearly half of the closures: Payless Shoes, Charlotte Russe, Gymboree and Ascena Retail Group. Retailers are also opening stores faster than last year. Coresight reports 3,571 openings so far, compared to 3,258 for all of 2018. “What is being missed is the large abundance of successful retailers,” said Tyler Higgins, managing director at Aarete, a global consultancy firm. “These are the retailers that are being strategic with their footprint, leveraging a successful eCommerce platform, and accelerating the pace at which they can get product into consumers’ hands.”