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The 2020 Retail Apocalypse Just Claimed J.C. Penney — and 100 More of Your Favorite Stores Are on the Chopping Block

John Csiszar

Last Friday, department store chain J.C. Penney filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, following in the footsteps of other popular retailers like J. Crew and Pier 1 Imports. While this might come as a surprise to its loyal shoppers, the company’s decision follows a clear pattern. It had closed a number of stores in recent years, accumulated more than $4 billion in debt and seen its sales decline every year since 2015.

But J.C. Penney is just one of many brands that were facing hard times pre-pandemic. The advent of online shopping, the reduction in mall foot traffic and the domination of the retail sector by Amazon have sent traditional brick-and-mortar retailers reeling. Now, with all of the store shutdowns induced by COVID-19, things have only gotten worse. If the slowdown persists, some of the most popular brands in the world could end up following J.C. Penney’s demise, creating a true retail apocalypse.

To quantify the depth of the carnage, GOBankingRates researched which retailers have experienced a severe decline in sales and announced permanent store closings, along with which retailers are closing temporarily due to the coronavirus pandemic. Study results are presented in two sections. For the first section, stores are ordered from the highest number of stores remaining to the fewest. For the COVID-19 section, stores are ranked from the fewest stores closing to the most.

Some of the findings might surprise casual shoppers. For example, even before the full extent of the coronavirus pandemic was being felt, luxury retailer Neiman Marcus — which has since filed for Chapter 11 protection as well — indicated it was closing all 22 of its Last Call stores and laying off 500 workers. Numerous other famous retailers also dominated the list of pre-coronavirus store closures, including Macy’s, Gap and Victoria’s Secret.

Companies like Nike, New Balance, Kohl’s and the TJX Companies — which include T.J. Maxx, HomeGoods and Marshalls — closed at least 1,000 locations for the time being because of COVID-19. And while some retailers continue to pay employees, many have had to furlough their workers.

There will, of course, be survivors; American consumers always will love to shop. But for other stores, the COVID-19 pandemic could not have hit at a worse time. With already weakening sales and store closings, enduring an extended economic shutdown could prove the death knell for some of our nation’s most storied retailers. To help keep them afloat, you might want to direct your shopping dollars toward stores you love so that they don’t end up gone forever.

This article has been updated to include the news of J.C. Penney’s bankruptcy. All other information was last updated May 4, 2020.

CVS

  • How many stores are left: Approximately 9,900

CVS is trimming underperforming stores to improve its bottom line, but store closures currently amount only to fewer than 1% of the chain’s locations nationwide.

Walgreens

  • How many stores are left: Approximately 9,300

Walgreens is in the midst of a program to trim expenses by $1.5 billion by its 2022 fiscal year. Store closures amount to less than 3% of existing stores.

Family Dollar

  • How many stores are left: Approximately 8,000

Family Dollar is the weak link in parent Dollar Tree’s portfolio. The company trimmed 390 underperforming stores in 2019.

GameStop

  • How many stores are left: Approximately 5,700

GameStop is the world’s largest game retailer, but perhaps it has gotten too big in terms of physical locations. The company has begun closing hundreds of locations and has indicated that number is set to increase.

Rite Aid

  • How many stores are left: 2,937

After buying Rite Aid for $4 billion, parent company Walgreens announced its intention to dramatically trim its retail store count. That number has blossomed to more than one-third of total Rite Aid locations.

Hallmark

  • How many stores are left: Approximately 2,000

Online sales and social media are crushing venerable card retailer Hallmark to the point that one owner said the business is no longer “a viable” one.

Office Depot

  • How many stores are left: Approximately 1,400

In 2016, Office Depot announced its plan to close about 300 stores. Slowing sales and underperforming locations continue to weigh on the company.

Chico's

  • How many stores are left: 1,373

The owner of White House Black Market, Soma and its namesake Chico’s brand, the company announced 250 store closures through 2022.

Victoria's Secret

  • How many stores are left: 1,128

The most famous lingerie brand in the world isn’t immune to the retail apocalypse, with “declining performance” resulting in 53 store closures in 2019. Its parent company, L Brands, had agreed to sell a majority of Victoria’s Secret to Sycamore Partners this year, but the pair mutually terminated the deal amid coronavirus-related business concerns.  The failed deal now leaves the brand’s future in doubt.

Kohl's

  • How many stores are left: Approximately 1,100

The majority of Kohl’s stores are located outside of malls, which has helped the company survive the massive drawdown in mall traffic. Still, the company has been closing underperforming locations to help further insulate it.

Bed Bath & Beyond

  • How many stores are left: 1,024

Bed Bath & Beyond is suffering through major declines in sales, resulting in store closures and refurbishments. For its fiscal second quarter 2019 results, the company reported a net sales decrease of a whopping 7.3%.

J.C. Penney

  • How many stores are left: 846

J.C. Penney has been struggling for some time, with its stock price trading in the single digits for more than three years and below $1.20 for nearly a year. On May 15, the chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and 242 stores — or 29% of its locations — will close between now and the next fiscal year.

Gap

  • How many stores are left: 727

Sales at Gap stores have been flat or declining for years, and hundreds of stores have closed as a result.

Express

  • How many stores are left: Approximately 650

Express announced the closure of 31 stores in January, with 100 slated to shut down by 2022.

Macy's

  • How many stores are left: 581

The venerable retailer known for its flagship New York City location and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been closing stores regularly as they come off lease. It announced the closure of an additional 30 locations earlier this year.

Forever 21

  • How many stores are left: 480

Forever 21 announced it would file Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the second half of 2019. As part of that process, the company is closing 200 stores.

Christopher & Banks

  • How many stores are left: 451

A dismal drop in same-store sales has forced Christopher & Banks into a store-closing cycle. The closure of 30 to 40 stores began at the end of 2019.

New York & Company

  • How many stores are left: Approximately 400

Falling sales and earnings have led to 27 stores closures at New York & Company, including sister company Fashion to Figure.

Bose

  • How many stores are left: 249

The dramatic shift from brick-and-mortar stores to online sales has prompted Bose to close all 199 stores in North America, Japan, Australia and Europe over the first few months of 2020.

Sears

  • How many stores are left: Fewer than 200

Sears was bought out of bankruptcy in 2019 by Transformco. As part of the reconfiguration of the brand, 51 additional Sears stores were placed on the chopping block.

J. Crew

  • How many stores are left: 181

As an effort to reignite the brand, J. Crew closed 34 stores in 2018 and an additional 20 in 2019. In May, Chino Holdings — the parent company of J. Crew — announced that it had filed for Chapter 11 protection. J. Crew, however, said that it would continue to operate its online business and plans to reopen stores once lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Kmart

  • How many stores are left: Less than 100

Like its sister company Sears, Kmart was bought out of bankruptcy by Transformco, which announced its intention to close an additional 45 Kmart locations.

Olympia Sports

  • How many stores are left: 75

Olympia Sports was acquired by sports retailer JackRabbit in 2019. As part of the process, 76 Olympia Sports outlets were slated to close, leaving 75 still operating.

Destination Maternity

  • How many stores are left: Approximately 60

Destination Maternity is another retailer that filed bankruptcy in 2019. As part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy case, it was slated to close more than 180 of its stores.

Bloomingdale's

  • How many stores are left: 56

Bloomingdale’s is part of the storied Macy’s department store chain, and both names are struggling mightily as mall traffic declines. Bloomingdale’s has been slowly vanishing from the retail landscape, and another store is slated to close in 2020.

Neiman Marcus

  • How many stores are left: 43

In March, Neiman Marcus announced that it was getting out of the discount business by closing all 22 of its Last Call stores, in addition to laying off workers at its main brand stores. On May 7, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Lord & Taylor

  • How many stores are left: 33

After more than 100 years in business, Lord & Taylor closed its flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York City in January 2019.

A. C. Moore

  • How many stores are left: 0

Arts and crafts chain A.C. Moore announced at the end of 2019 that it would be closing all of its 145 stores, with some of them being converted into Michaels outlets.

 

Papyrus

  • How many stores are left: 0

Greeting card and stationery chain Papyrus is another victim of the retail apocalypse, announcing earlier this year that it was filing for bankruptcy and would close all of its stores.

Pier 1 Imports

  • How many stores are left: 0

Pier 1 Imports filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February. The company announced May 19 that it would permanently close all of its stores.

Retail Stores That Are Closing Due to COVID-19

As if the state of the American retail industry wasn’t bad enough over the past few years, the economic recession that seems likely to emerge from the COVID-19 outbreak could prove devastating. Already, retailers are reacting, closing stores left and right and leaving few avenues for revenue generation except online sales. Here’s a look at the retailers closing the largest number of stores during the current COVID-19 crisis, at least temporarily.

Supreme

  • How many stores will close: 6

All Supreme stores in the United States, France and Britain currently are closed.

 

Canada Goose

  • How many stores will close: 11

Canada Goose initially closed all of its stores through March 31, a period that is likely to be extended. The CEO also noted that he would take no pay for three months.

Lands' End

  • How many stores will close: Approximately 20

Lands’ End, like many of its mall-based competitors, announced a plan to close all of its stores due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Columbia Sportswear

  • How many stores will close: 21

Columbia Sportswear originally closed through March 27 but will continue to keep its stores shuttered.

Chanel

  • How many stores will close: 23

Chanel closed all of its U.S. boutiques due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Alice + Olivia

  • How many stores will close: 23

Originally, Alice & Olivia’s CEO intended to keep its stores open, but as social distancing grew in importance, all stores were closed.

Patagonia

  • How many stores will close: 39

Patagonia was one of the first stores to announce closures due to the coronavirus outbreak. It closed all of its locations in North America, 37 of which are located in the U.S. It also announced that it would continue to pay its employees.

L.L. Bean

  • How many stores will close: 39

L.L. Bean initially announced it would close its stores through March 29 and continue to pay all employees.

Saks Fifth Avenue

  • How many stores will close: 39

Saks Fifth Avenue closed all of its namesake stores, along with its Off 5th brand, across the United States and Canada.

Neiman Marcus

  • How many stores will close: 43

Neiman Marcus will continue to pay its employees’ salaries and benefits throughout the shutdown. It also announced the acceleration of a remote selling tool.

Bloomingdale's

  • How many stores will close: 56

The stores originally were slated to be closed through March 31, with employees continuing to receive compensation and benefits.

Uniqlo

  • How many stores will close: 56

Although all U.S.-based Uniqlo stores have closed, the company has been reopening its China-based stores.

Eileen Fisher

  • How many stores will close: Approximately 60

All Eileen Fisher stores are closed through the pandemic, but employees are still being paid.

Vineyard Vines

  • How many stores will close: 70

Vineyard Vines is another mall-based store that remains closed because of the coronavirus.

Kiehl's

  • How many stores will close: 79

Kiehl’s has closed all stores until further notice, with employees being paid “for all hours they have been scheduled to work.”

Aritzia

  • How many stores will close: Approximately 90

Canadian company Aritzia is closing all of its U.S.-based stores.

Zara

  • How many stores will close: Approximately 100

All Zara stores in the United States remain temporarily closed.

Nordstrom

  • How many stores will close: 117

All Nordstrom locations, including Nordstrom Rack and Trunk Club, are currently closed. Pay and benefits were to remain intact for employees. Company officials said they think the chain should survive through the shutdown since one-third of its sales are online.

REI

  • How many stores will close: 162

Like Patagonia and Columbia Sportswear, REI closed all of its locations initially through March 27, which has been extended. The company continues to pay its employees.

Urban Outfitters

  • How many stores will close: Approximately 200

Urban Outfitters initially closed its stores through March 28, indicating at the time that the date was subject to be extended. Workers continued to be paid.

Anthropologie

  • How many stores will close: Approximately 200

Anthropologie is a sister store to Urban Outfitters, and its closure policy is the same.

Simon Property Group

  • How many stores will close: 209 properties

Simon Property Group is the largest mall operator in the country. The COVID-19 outbreak forced it to shutter all of its locations on March 18 through March 29, a period that was extended.

Lush Cosmetics

  • How many stores will close: 240

Fast-growing Lush Cosmetics was forced to temporarily close all of its U.S.- and Canada-based locations. The company indicated it would continue to pay its employees.

Tory Burch

  • How many stores will close: Approximately 300

Tory Burch initially announced the closure of all stores through March 29, with full pay for all employees.

 

Under Armour

  • How many stores will close: Approximately 400

Under Armour closed its North America stores through March 28, although that was extended.

Lululemon

  • How many stores will close: Approximately 460

Lululemon initially only restricted hours of its stores, but later went to a full closure of all locations in North America.

Sephora

  • How many stores will close: Approximately 460

Sephora initially announced a closure from March 17 through April 3, during which time it would pay all employees. The company also waived all shipping fees for online orders.

Ralph Lauren

  • How many stores will close: 465

Ralph Lauren announced the closure of all of its North America stores through April 1, subject to extension.

Fossil

  • How many stores will close: 485

Fossil is another mall staple that announced the closure of all of its stores.

DSW

  • How many stores will close: Approximately 500

DSW announced a full closure with no assigned reopening date. It will continue to pay its employees.

Jos. A. Bank

  • How many stores will close: Approximately 500

Jos. A. Bank initially closed all of its locations through March 28 while keeping employee pay intact.

J. Crew

  • How many stores: 520 in the J. Crew Group

J. Crew initially kept its locations open and was assailed on Instagram for its slow response. The company then switched to a two-week closure, during which time it would continue to pay its employees.

Madewell

  • How many stores: 520 in the J. Crew Group

Madewell, another brand under the J. Crew Group, followed its parent company’s policies during the outbreak. Initially slow to react, the company subsequently closed for an initial two weeks and continued to pay all employees.

Levi Strauss

  • How many stores will close: 565

The venerable jeans maker initially closed through March 27 and committed to continue to pay staff through that date.

Macy's

  • How many stores will close: 581

Macy’s employees were promised pay and benefits through March 31, the date of the initial company closure.

Abercrombie & Fitch

  • How many stores will close: 650

Abercrombie & Fitch announced it would shutter more than 800 stores outside of the Asia Pacific region, including about 650 in the United States. Employees were to receive pay “in alignment with business as usual operations.”

Men's Warehouse

  • How many stores will close: Approximately 700

Falling under the umbrella of Tailored Brands, just like its sister company Jos. A. Bank, Men’s Wearhouse initially closed through March 28 and continued to pay its employees.

J.C. Penney

  • How many stores will close: 846

J.C. Penney reported that all of its stores would close through April 2, which was extended.

Foot Locker

  • How many stores will close: 895

Foot Locker announced it would close its stores initially through March 31 and that it would continue to pay its employees.

American Eagle

  • How many stores will close: Approximately 1,000

American Eagle is another staple of American malls that is shutting down with its fellow tenants.

Kohl's

  • How many stores will close: Approximately 1,100

Kohl’s announced an initial store closure of two weeks, which would take the shutdown to April 1. Employees were to be paid in the meantime.

Nike

  • How many stores will close: Approximately 1,150

Nike closed all of its stores in the United States, including its outlet locations. Employees were to continue receiving pay.

Chico's

  • How many stores will close: 1,373

Chico’s is one of the most omnipresent stores in American malls, but its nearly 1,400 locations all closed in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Free People

  • How many stores will close: Approximately 1,400

As with its sister companies Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters, Free People announced an initial closure of all stores until March 28, subject to change.

Coach

  • How many stores will close: Approximately 1,500 as part of the Tapestry brands group

Coach, along with its fellow Tapestry brands Kate Spade New York and Stuart Weitzman, announced initial closures of all stores through March 27. Scheduled pay and benefits remained intact for employees.

 

Kate Spade New York

  • How many stores will close: Approximately 1,500 as part of the Tapestry brands group

Kate Spade New York, along with its fellow Tapestry brands Coach and Stuart Weitzman, announced initial closures of all stores through March 27. Scheduled pay and benefits remained intact for employees.

Stuart Weitzman

  • How many stores will close: Approximately 1,500 as part of the Tapestry brands group

Stuart Weitzman, along with its fellow Tapestry brands Kate Spade New York and Coach, announced initial closures of all stores through March 27. Scheduled pay and benefits remained intact for employees.

Calvin Klein

  • How many stores will close: Approximately 1,600 as part of the PVH Brands group

Along with its PVH Brands sister company Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein closed its North American and European stores from March 17 through March 29 to start. The company committed to providing workers with full pay and benefits for the period.

New Balance

  • How many stores will close: Approximately 1,600

New Balance announced that it would close nearly 1,600 stores in the United States until at least March 27, with employee pay being unaffected.

Tommy Hilfiger

  • How many stores will close: Approximately 1,600 as part of the PVH Brands group

Along with its PVH Brands sister company Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger closed its North American and European stores from March 17 through March 29 to start. The company committed to providing workers with full pay and benefits for the period.

Ann Taylor

  • How many stores will close: Approximately 2,800 as part of the Ascena Retail Group

Ascena Retail Group is the parent company of Ann Taylor, Loft and Lou & Grey. All brand stores were to be closed through March 28, with workers being paid for their scheduled shifts.

     

    Loft

    • How many stores will close: Approximately 2,800 as part of the Ascena Retail Group

    Ascena Retail Group is the parent company of Ann Taylor, Loft and Lou & Grey. All brand stores were to be closed through March 28, with workers being paid for their scheduled shifts.

    Lou & Grey

    • How many stores will close: Approximately 2,800 as part of the Ascena Retail Group

    Ascena Retail Group is the parent company of Ann Taylor, Loft and Lou & Grey. All brand stores were to be closed through March 28, with workers being paid for their scheduled shifts.

    Bath & Body Works

    • How many stores will close: Approximately 3,000 as part of the L Brands group

    Bath & Body Works is one of the subsidiary companies of parent L Brands, as are Victoria’s Secret and Pink. All of the parent company’s stores in the United States and Canada initially were shut down through March 29.

    Pink

    • How many stores will close: Approximately 3,000 as part of the L Brands group

    Pink is one of the subsidiary companies of parent L Brands, as are Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret. All of the parent company’s stores in the United States and Canada were initially shut down through March 29.

    Victoria’s Secret

    • How many stores will close: Approximately 3,000 as part of the L Brands group

    Victoria’s Secret is one of the subsidiary companies of parent L Brands, as are Bath & Body Works and Pink. All of the parent company’s stores in the United States and Canada were initially shut down through March 29.

    Athleta

    • How many stores will close: Approximately 3,600 as part of the Gap collection of stores

    The Gap collection of stores totals nearly 3,600, about 2,600 of which are based in North America. All of those stores, which include brands Athleta, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Intermix and Gap, initially were closed for two weeks, with employees maintaining pay and benefits.

    Banana Republic

    • How many stores will close: Approximately 3,600 as part of the Gap collection of stores

    On March 30, Gap Inc. announced it would be extending its store closures past the previously announced date of April 1 to help slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

    Gap

    • How many stores will close: Approximately 3,600 as part of the Gap collection of stores

    The same day it announced the extended period of closure for all of its stores, Gap said it also would furlough most of its 80,000 retail employees.

    Intermix

    • How many stores will close: Approximately 3,600 as part of the Gap collection of stores

    Despite the closure to all Gap brick-and-mortar stores, the company’s brands, including Intermix, will continue to be available for purchase online.

    Old Navy

    • How many stores will close: Approximately 3,600 as part of the Gap collection of stores

    Several Gap brands launched major sales on their online stores over the weekend. As of April 7, Old Navy shoppers can get up to 60 percent off on select styles for a limited time only.

    HomeGoods

    • How many stores will close: Approximately 4,300 as part of the TJX Companies

    TJX Companies, the parent of HomeGoods, T.J. Maxx, Marmaxx and Marshalls, announced thousands of store closures globally. The company also shut down its entire online operation, while initially guaranteeing employee pay for two weeks.

    Marmaxx

    • How many stores will close: Approximately 4,300 as part of the TJX Companies

    TJX Companies, the parent of Marmaxx, HomeGoods, T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, announced thousands of store closures globally. The company also shut down its entire online operation, while initially guaranteeing employee pay for two weeks.

    Marshalls

    • How many stores will close: Approximately 4,300 as part of the TJX Companies

    TJX Companies, the parent of Marshalls, HomeGoods, Marmaxx and T.J. Maxx, announced thousands of store closures globally. The company also shut down its entire online operation, while initially guaranteeing employee pay for two weeks.

    T.J. Maxx

    • How many stores will close: Approximately 4,300 as part of the TJX Companies

    TJX Companies, the parent of T.J. Maxx, HomeGoods, Marmaxx and Marshalls, announced thousands of store closures globally. The company also shut down its entire online operation, while initially guaranteeing employee pay for two weeks.

    COS

    • How many stores will close: Approximately 5,000 as part of the H&M Group

    COS Stores is a subsidiary company of the H&M Group. The parent company closed all of its name-brand stores in the United States and Canada until April 2. This closure applied to all of its subsidiary companies as well, including & Other Stories.

    H&M

    • How many stores will close: Approximately 5,000 as part of the H&M Group

    H&M Group closed all of its name-brand stores in the United States and Canada until April 2. This closure applied to all of its subsidiary companies as well, including COS and & Other Stories.

    & Other Stories

    • How many stores will close: Approximately 5,000 as part of the H&M Group

    & Other Stores is a subsidiary company of the H&M Group. The parent company closed all of its name-brand stores in the United States and Canada until April 2. This closure applied to all of its subsidiary companies as well, including COS.

    Dior


    • How many stores will close: Not available

    A luxury brand under the LVMH umbrella, Dior will close its stores for the time being. LVMH, which is based in France, said it plans to manufacture antibacterial gel in response to the hand sanitizer shortage.

    Louis Vuitton


    • How many stores will close: Not available

    While the extent of closures hasn’t yet been confirmed, parent company LVMH announced that it was temporarily closing some of its stores in the United States, including Louis Vuitton. The announcement came after the luxury fashion group closed stores in France and Italy. Most of the American locations are in California and New York.

    Prada


    • How many stores will close: Not available

    Italian brand Prada, another part of the LVMH family, announced recently that it would produce 80,000 overalls and 110,000 face masks for Italian healthcare workers in response to the coronavirus pandemic devastating the country.

    More From GOBankingRates

    Chris Jennings contributed to the reporting for this article. 

    Methodology: To determine which U.S. stores would be closing due to the new coronavirus, GOBankingRates sourced various reports and press releases, including a cumulative report from The New York Times. GOBankingRates then found how many stores would be qualified to close (typically all U.S. locations) from each store’s individual website. All data was collected and up to date as of March 24, 2020.

    This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: The 2020 Retail Apocalypse Just Claimed J.C. Penney — and 100 More of Your Favorite Stores Are on the Chopping Block