The most disturbing aspect of the retail apocalypse afflicting America is that nobody knows how many stores are really closing. Unfortunately no entity seems to be keeping a tally of the closures.
Part of the reason for that is outside the business media; almost no journalists are paying attention to the mass closings. Neither CBS News; nor the local Denver TV stations seemed to notice JC Penney’s recent closing announcement.
To add to the confusion many companies will go out of their way to hide store closings largely to protect to their share prices. Sears Holdings (NASDAQ: SHLD) refused to list its closings for several years until journalists called it out on the practice.
Nor is there any legal obligation for privately held retailers like Safeway and Aldi to release accurate data about store closures. Publicly-traded companies are required to put such information in their earnings reports but they are not required to tell the press.
Therefore it is very difficult to know how many stores are really closing. Many people only learn of closures when they go on a shopping trip and find the doors at a local store locked. Employees often only find out when the manager calls them in and says, “we’re closing next week.”
2,306 Stores Slated for Closure and that’s probably an undercount
Under such circumstances compiling an accurate list of store closures is nearly impossible. Still I thought I’d list as many as I could find in order to demonstrate just what a catastrophe the retail apocalypse really is.
Here are the best tallies of the store closings scheduled for 2017 I could find:
- Kmart – 108 stores
- Sears – 42 locations.
- JC Penney (NYSE: JCP) – 140 stores and two distribution centers.
- Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFM) – nine stores.
- Macy’s (NYSE: M) -135 stores.
- The Limited is closing all 250 of its stores.
- Abercrombie & Fitch is planning to close 60 stores this years.
- Radio Shack – The Consumerist reported that 200 Radio Shacks will close by the end of March. The rest will be converted to Sprint stores. Fascinating news because I thought the Shack was completely dead.
- Family Christian Stores – 240 Stores the entire chain. Christianity Today reported that Christian Family; the world’s largest retailer of Christian themed merchandise, will be liquidated.
- Staples (NASDAQ: SPLS) is planning to close 70 more North American Stores, The Consumerist
- Office Depot (NASDAQ: ODP) is planning to close 75 stores this years, The South Florida Business Journal
- The Gap is planning to close around 65 stores more than expected. It had planned to close 50 locations.
- Wet Seal is closing all 171 of its stores. It already closed more than 500
- Walgreen Boots Alliance (NASDAQ: WBA) may have to divest up to 1,200 stores when it acquires the number three drugstore chain Rite Aid (NYSE: RAD). To get approval from the Federal Trade Commission Walgreen has plans to sell 865 drugstores to Fred’s a company that seems to lack the money to operate them. Bloomberg just reported that Walgreens is considering selling even more stores to Fred’s (NASDAQ: FRED). Since Fred’s reported revenues of $2.15 billion and a net income of -$47.97 a large number of drugstore closings is a likely outcome.
- Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) plans to close 227 stores through 2017. Since its comparable sales fell by 8.3% during the holidays expect to see more closings here.
- Walmart (NYSE: WMT) has no major closings plans this year but it is eliminating 1,000 employees at its headquarters. That’s on top of the 7,000 accounting positions eliminated in its stores last year.
- HH Gregg is planning to close 88 stores and three distribution centers.
- Crocs is planning to close 160 stores.
- American Apparel is planning to close all 110 of its remaining stores.
- BCBG (a high-end women’s wear chain) is planning to close 120 stores.
- CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) is planning to close around 70 stores in the US in early 2017.
- Discounter Gordman’s filed for bankruptcy and plans to liquidate 106 stores in 22 states, Biz Times reported.
If these figures based on a reading of online news articles are right 2,376 stores across the United States are slated for closure. What’s truly scary is that these numbers reflect just the closings that we know about.
They don’t include all the mom and pop stores, and smaller chains that might be going under. Nor does the number include the trimming that’s sure to occur when chains like Supervalu (NYSE: SVU) collapse and get gobbled up by larger competitors.
Kroger (NYSE: KR) will probably close 20% of the Wisconsin supermarkets it bought when it acquired Roundy’s in 2015, Grocery industry analyst David Livingston told The Wisconsin Biz Times last year. If that’s correct it works out to around 30 supermarket closings because Roundy’s operates 150 supermarkets under the Marianos, Copps, Metro Market and Pick n’ Save brand names.
Since chains like Supervalu are likely to collapse in coming months, and get absorbed by Kroger or Safeway expect more closings in the supermarket business this year. Kroger is already quietly phasing out the Copps brand in Wisconsin, Biz Times reported.
The retail apocalypse is real and it is about to get far worse. The devastation at America’s shopping centers is spreading fast and it will soon be coming to your community.