Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Few Retail Closings, But Not a Flood

This is the week that analysts thought we would see a flood of large-scale closings at U.S. retail. There have been several announcements, but it is all less than expected. Add these to last week’s list, with stores closing mostly in the first quarter:

  • Body Central/Body Shop (mall teen clothing): all 265 stores
  • Macy’s (department store): 14 stores
  • Delia’s (1990s teen girl fashion): all 92 stores, in bankruptcy liquidation (gift cards valid only until January 23)
  • Aeropostale (mall, clothing): 50 to 75 stores in 2015
  • Ruum (mall, kids’ clothing): all 26 stores
  • Radio Shack (consumer electronics): at least 10 stores this month as leases expire (with more to follow, everyone assumes)

It is Canada where the big announcements are. Today two foreign-owned retailers gave up on their Canadian operations. Target is preparing to close all of its stores across Canada. Target filed for bankruptcy protection for its Canadian subsidiary today, but apparently that is just for the purpose of breaking leases. Target says it has 133 stores in Canada and 17,600 employees. It emphasizes it wants to make an orderly process of store closings, which I think means most stores will close in March and April. There won’t be store liquidations, as merchandise that doesn’t sell at the store-closing discounts can be packed up and shipped elsewhere. Analysts are saying Target’s biggest mistake in its Canadian venture was to try to do too much too soon. It had a sensible plan but lost money by implementing too rapidly. Target had a favorable holiday season in the United States and can easily afford the half-billion-dollar cost of closing its stores in Canada.

Also today Sony announced it is closing its stores in Canada next month. There are only 14 Sony stores, so this is a much smaller announcement. Sony is directing customers to other retailers that carry Sony products.