Retailers Struggling Through Their Toughest Year In A Decade

by MR Magazine Staff

After a subpar holiday season, U.S. brick-and-mortar retailers are off to an even more cheerless year, with 14 having already having declared bankruptcy in 2017. Women’s clothing label Bebe is the latest casualty, announcing on Friday it would close all 175 stores and liquidate its inventory. The news followed bankruptcy filings by Payless, H.H. Gregg, BCBG Max Azria, The Limited, Wet Seal, Gander Mountain, MC Sports and Gordman’s. Others, including Macy’s, Ralph Lauren, J. Crew, Abercrombie & Fitch, J.C. Penney, CVS and GameStop, are cutting back on locations. In perhaps the starkest sign of the historical shift away from department stores, Sears — which traces its history to the 1880s — warned in March that it may be forced to close. The plight of retailers is leaving its mark on the labor market. The sector shed 60,000 jobs in February and March, and a total of 2,880 individual stores have closed so far — more than double the number of closures for the first three months of 2016. Department stores have been struggling for years, and analysts aren’t optimistic that will change anytime soon. A pair of recent reports estimated that between 2,000 and 8,000 additional stores would have to close to bring retail space in line with what foot traffic can support. Mid-priced stores, which are dealing with reduced traffic, costlier rents and more consumers shopping online, are especially hurting. And with more manufacturers reaching shoppers directly — through online media or even their own retail channels — department stores have sometimes found themselves competing with the very brands they stock. See more at CBS News.