2016/03/09

The Hot Spring Fashion: Store Closings

Staples SPLS -1.25% has joined a growing list of retailers that will be closing storesthis spring. The company will shutter 50 locations as it tries to stem losses and chart a path back to profitability.

Photographer: Sean Proctor/Bloomberg
It’s hardly alone.
Sports Authority filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on March 2 and will close 140 locations as it attempts to restructure.
Kohl's KSS +0.23% is closing 18 locations as it tries to balance brick and mortar with digital investment.
Sears Holdings is stepping up its store closing schedule as Chairman and CEO Eddie Lampert continues to squeeze what profit is left from its real estate holdings as store sales keep sliding.

Macy's M -1.30% is closing 40 stores and cutting staff at headquarters as it looks to reach shoppers with smaller formats and digital properties.

And of course Walmart, the largest of them all, is closing 154 stores in the U.S. and shutting down its Walmart Express small format and 16 additional supercenters.
Even retailers on the positive side of sales are closing units.  Target is having  something of a banner year yet said it will close close to a dozen stores as it rationalizes its store base. Starbucks decided to shutter its Teavana locations and focus on what its does best, coffee. And Best Buy pulled the plug on its online marketplace, an attempt to compete with Amazon and Jet.com that never paid off.

When I first began covering retail in the mid 1990′s, the phrase “America is over stored” was used with great frequency. Flash forward 20 years and thousands of additional stores and America is way beyond being over stored.

All of this likely has a much bigger impact on employment number than shoppers. Consumers are simply visiting stores, specifically these stores, less frequently.
Not all retailers are shrinking. Meijer is investing $400 million in new stores this year. The regional, privately-held and still family run mass merchant has thrived through its community focus and personalized assortment, the very kind of personalization that larger national chains are struggling to achieve.

It’s notable that no major grocery retailers have announced store closures. Quite the opposite—everyone from Whole Foods to Kroger   and regional favorite Publix are expanding and developing fresh new concepts. In fact, some of the most exciting retail environments today are in the grocery sector as it seems the foodie nation has pushed supermarkets past technology and apparel into most favored status with shoppers. But that’s another article.
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