California Loses 7,100 Jobs in First Half of 2017 as Retail Store Closures Increase 15%

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Retail store closures in California is undermining growth. While most of the attention has been focused on the fallout for retail brands and shopping malls, one overlooked segment is the negative effect these store closings have on jettisoned employees.

More than 7,000 retail jobs were lost in the first half of the year in California alone. Most of the losses came from department stores and the apparel sector, as well as other niche retailers.

The challenges are twofold. On one hand, it means more and more people are out of work at a time when savings have been depleted and debt levels are at record levels. These job losses are also significant because it means fewer consumers have disposable income, further exacerbating the troubles cobbling the retail industry.

The number of stores that closed in California over the first half of 2017 increased by 15% to 76 closures, compared to 66 in the first half of 2016. American Apparel Inc’s closures have led to the most job losses at 3,457 in Los Angeles, most being from its factories.


Bebe stores, inc. (NASDAQ:BEBE) announced 35 store closures in California, resulting in almost 700 job losses. Other major retailers laying off people include BCBG Max Azria Group, LLC (116); Bristol Farms Inc (82); Dearden’s Inc. (419); Dollar Express, Inc. (62); J C Penney Company Inc (NYSE:JCP, 178); Louis Vuitton USA (43); Macy’s Inc (NYSE:M, 305); Nasty Gal Inc (98); Nordstrom, Inc. (NYSE:JWN, 195); Sears Holdings Corp (NASDAQ:SHLD, 185), plus another 218 from its Kmart chain; Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT, 208); Wet Seal Inc (148); and Wal-Mart Stores Inc (NYSE:WMT, 174).

Even though these are not high-paying jobs, the loss of income and failure to find additional employment is making it difficult for many Californians to pay their bills. That’s because the retail sector does not, for the most part, pay well, making it difficult to set money aside for a rainy day.

The Great Recession ended in 2009, but for many Americans, life has become more difficult during the so-called economic recovery. Almost half of Americans (49%) live paycheck-to-paycheck. And to make matters worse, 61% of Americans do not have an emergency fund to cover even six months’ worth of expenses.

The second half of 2017 does not look any brighter for the retail industry in California, with The Gymboree Corporation recently announcing it is shuttering 24 locations.



California WARN Report,” State of California Employment Development Department, last accessed August 1, 2017.

California Retail Closures Resulting In Thousands Of Lost Jobs,” Bisnow, July 25, 2017.

Survey Finds Great Recession Aftershocks Are Still Rattling Americans,” GOBankingRates, June 26, 2017.