A Record Number of Stores to Close in 2017 and Up to 25% of U.S. Malls to Close by 2022

Close sign hanging on glass of shop
iStock.com/Weedezign

The U.S. retail landscape is in trouble, with traditional brick-and-mortar stores closing and the bankruptcy rate soaring. But according to a major Wall Street firm, it’s going to get a lot worse.

In a new research note, Credit Suisse predicts that as many as 25% of U.S. malls–up to 275 shopping centers–will close by 2022.

Since the start of 2017, the number of store closing and bankruptcies has been unrelenting. Michael Kors Holdings Ltd (NYSE:KORS) has announced it will close as many as 125 of its stores. Payless Inc said it would close more locations than first expected, with the number doubling to 800 stores. The Gymboree Corporation is on the verge of bankruptcy, having just missed a multimillion-dollar June payment date on its outstanding 9.125% notes due in 2018.

Meanwhile, other mall-based retailers like J.C. Penney Company Inc (NYSE:JCP), Sears Holdings Corp, Macy’s Inc (NYSE:M), and Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (NYSE:ANF) announced they would be shuttering a number of stores. This paints a bleak picture for the broader retail industry.

In the midst of the retail Armageddon, Credit Suisse has predicted that between 20% and 25% of all U.S. malls will close over the next five years. The writing has been on the wall for years, and the future looks bleak.

Same-store sales in the first quarter of 2017 were up just 16 basis points, a tie for the worst quarter of comparable-sales growth since the 2008 Great Recession. And the second quarter looks almost as bad, with second-quarter comparable sales growth forecast at just 20 basis points.

Moreover, the World Economic Forum predicts that 30% to 50% of retail jobs are at risk once current automation technologies are implemented. This would result in a loss of about six-million retail jobs. Roughly 16 million, or one in 10 Americans, work in the retail sector.

For many, 2022 seems like a long ways away–more than enough time for the U.S. retail industry to reinvent itself. But five years may not be enough time to stem the bleeding.

In May, the Labor Department announced that U.S. retailers jettisoned 6,100 jobs. The majority of these cuts came from department stores and “other general merchandise” stores. But food-and-beverage stores also reported a large drop-off.

Credit Suisse predicts that around 8,640 U.S. stores will close by the end of 2017. In addition to being a record, this number is significantly higher than at the height of the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

 

(Source:

Dire predictions for retail stoked by another bad week full of store closures and a looming bankruptcy,” CNBC, June 2, 2017.

Employment Situation Summary,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 2, 2017.

Retail Automation: Stranded Workers? Opportunities and risks for labor and automation,” Cornerstone Capital Group, May 18, 2017.

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