The staggering rate of store closures that has rocked the retail industry over the last couple years is expected to continue in 2019, with roughly the same level of closures expected this year.
Retailers closed a record-breaking 102 million square feet of store space in 2017, then smashed that record in 2018 by closing another 155 million square feet of space, according to estimates by the commercial real estate firm CoStar Group.
“This year we are predicting more of the same in the retail space,” said Drew Myers, a CoStar senior consultant.
Retailers have announced more than 4,000 store closures so far this year, according to an analysis by Business Insider. This list is expected to grow in the coming months.
Payless, Gymboree, Shopko, Performance Bicycle, and Charlotte Russe are responsible for the bulk of the expected closures announced to date. All four companies have filed for bankruptcy and announced full or partial liquidations.
Payless alone, which said this week it would liquidate 2,500 stores, accounts for more than half of the expected closures.
Sears, which recently emerged from bankruptcy, is also a key contributor to the closings. The company is expected to close 70 Sears stores and 50 Kmart stores this month in its third wave of closings since filing for bankruptcy in October.
Department stores will drive most of the closures
Most of the closures this year will continue to be concentrated in big-box and department stores, Myers said.
“Certainly department stores and apparel brands are a little more stressed today than in years past, so that is the big driver,” he said.
Last year, just three companies — Toys R Us, Bon-Ton Stores, and Sears — were responsible for 75% of the retail closings in the US. Toys R Us and Bon-Ton liquidated after filing for bankruptcy, according to CoStar.
Even healthy retailers are closing stores, however, in an effort to improve profitability against the backdrop of an overly saturated retail market.
There’s roughly 52 square feet of retail space per person in the US, compared to 19 square feet of retail space in the UK, according to CoStar.
This market oversaturation suggests the US is still in the “early innings” of mass store closures, according to a report last October by the advisory firm Cowen and Company.
While some analysts have declared an end to the retail apocalypse, the fallout from this period of upheaval appears to be far from over.
Find the specific locations of closing stores below: