2019 Was a Record-Breaking Year for Retail Store Closures

2017 was a grim year for retail store closures—the year saw a record 8,069 store closures. But 2019 has it beat.

According to the research analytics firm Coresight, U.S. retailers announced plans to shut more than 9,300 locations this past year. For comparison, 2018 saw 5,844 store closures. 

As consumers turn increasingly to online shopping (20% more shoppers bought online this holiday season than they did last year, according to MarketWatch), department stores and other major retailers with bloated brick-and-mortar footprints struggled to stay afloat. The result was a year of brutal bankruptcies, which was the cause of so many store closures.

And while some retail watchers say the scene is stabilizing, the pivot from in-store to online shopping won’t likely reverse—there’s really no going back on those consumer behaviors, most experts agree. Consulting firm A.T. Kearney reported that around 12% of retail purchases were made online this year, and it estimates that around one-third of all retail sales will occur online by 2030, CNBC wrote last week.

Here are a handful of major retailers (all jewelry related) that closed, or shuttered a significant number of locations, in 2019.

Charming Charlie
Fashion jewelry and accessories mega-store retailer Charming Charlie filed for Chapter 11 in July, announcing it would close all 261 stores in its fleet by 2020. Years of merchandising miscalculations were to blame: The retailer underestimated how sophisticated the tastes of its target consumer had become, as a result of social media exposure (quickening the life cycle of trends), among other factors.

Chico’s
Apparel and accessories chain Chico’s, which targets baby boomers, closed 75 stores in 2019. The retailer is stumbling because of online shopping, and also due to the rise of rental clothing services such as Rent the Runway and subscription services such as Stitch Fix, which have been gaining ground with occasion-apparel shoppers. 

Barneys New York
A Barneys New York storefront (photo: Pexels) 

Barneys New York
Barneys New York filed for Chapter 11 in August and, after unsuccessfully searching for a savior investor that would allow at least a handful of its stores to remain open, sold its intellectual property rights to Authentic Brands Group—which will sell the Barneys brand at Saks Fifth Avenue stores. Barneys’ Madison Avenue flagship in New York City will remain open for at least a little while longer—the only Barneys store to do so—but its fate is shaky. 

Forever 21
Forever 21, the SoCal retailer that helped pioneer the fast-fashion movement in the early 2000s, filed for bankruptcy in September and says it will pull out of its overseas leases, save for a handful of stores in Mexico and Latin America. One need only to glance into its department store-sized locations to understand that the retailer built too much, much too fast. 

Charlotte Russe
Fellow teen and twenty-something fashion retailer Charlotte Russe filed for Chapter 11 in February and was sold to North American fashion house YM Inc. in March. YM will keep “dozens” of stores open but plans to shutter even more.

Top: Inside a Charming Charlie location (photo courtesy of Charming Charlie)

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