Toys R Us is filing for bankruptcy, but it's not alone as many national retailers are struggling to remain competitive in a modern marketplace increasingly dominated by online commerce. The Toys R Us filing, one of the largest in retail history, confirms that the company may well be on the way to closing down, but 25 other major retailers might soon follow suit, if they haven't already.
SEARS AND KMART
On Aug. 24, Sears Holdings announced its latest crop of Kmart locations across the nation to be closed before the end of 2017. At the same time, the company confirmed it had already closed about 180 Sears and Kmart stores in the fiscal year, with another 150 still to go in the third quarter. Though the decline of Kmart is going faster, it may not be long before both department store chains have disappeared.
JC Penney closed more than 100 department store locations in July 2017, fitting the pattern of former shopping-mall titans struggling to hang on in the digital age. The company has also been shutting down distribution centers and offering buyouts to employees as it redirects resources into promoting its successful in-store boutiques like Sephora in remaining locations.
Gap still ranks as one of the world's most popular specialty retail brands despite struggling sales that this year forced the company to announce the closure of 200 Gap and Banana Republic locations over the next three years. There's good news for Gap investors, however, as the company looks forward to opening 270 locations for the growing brands under its umbrella, Old Navy and Athleta.
Macy's announced the closure of 68 department stores in early 2017, following the closure of 70 in the fiscal year 2016. The company seems to be using the money saved from store closures and layoffs to pursue new means of survival, like investing in digital business and incorporating an Apple store into their flagship location.
Vitamin World filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this month, at the same time revealing plans to close 51 underperforming stores out of a total 334 as part of its restructuring. The health-specialty retailer, whose locations are often found in malls, assured its customers that they're not going out of business -- but the recent moves certainly aren't a good sign.
Discount perfume retailer Perfumania filed for bankruptcy in August and began closing 64 stores, a full quarter of its total 226 locations. These closings followed another 103 closures over the past three years, but by all accounts, the company intends to continue by going private and developing a plan for sustainable growth.
Michael Kors is currently in the process of shutting down 100 to 125 standalone stores, but don't count the fashion brand and accessory retailer out just yet. In July, Kors acquired the luxury shoemaker Jimmy Choo to compensate for its own declining sales. It's also been searching for more innovative designs and is limiting discounts.
Starbucks' venture into the less-caffeinated world of tea seems to be ending in failure, as the coffee company is now closing all 379 of its Teavana locations. Only five years after acquiring the company, and despite efforts to redesign stores and introduce creative merchandise, Starbucks decided to close every one of the typically mall-based tea retailers following a strategic review in July.
The children's clothing chain Gymboree filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June, and is now in the process of closing roughly 400 of its total 1,281 stores as part of its reorganization under the filing. This came as no surprise after Gymboree failed to pay some its creditors in the months beforehand, but the filing made clear the company's intention to emerge from bankruptcy and to shave $1 billion off its $1.4 billion debt.
Designer jeans retailer True Religion is yet another shopping mall fixture that's recently filed for bankruptcy protection. At least 27 stores are expected to close as part of the company's restructuring process. One executive reportedly blamed the company's financial woes on the rise of "athleisure," new styles designed for exercise and everyday use, diminishing the popularity of traditional jeans.
Upon declaring bankruptcy in April, Payless ShoeSource announced immediate plans to close 400 stores across North America to manage its loans that will become due in coming years. The company successfully emerged from its restructuring in August, one of the first companies in the ongoing "retail apocalypse" to do so thus far, but not without shedding an approximate 673 stores in total.
Bebe operated 372 retail stores at its peak. In 2017, however, the women's clothing brand shut down all its 180 locations across the U.S. Rather than file for bankruptcy, the company, which lost millions in recent years but has little significant debt, shut its brick-and-mortar stores in the hope of going forward as an online-only retailer.
Clothing retailer rue21, with the stated goal of creating fashions for teens who want to look 21 and adults who want to feel 21 again, filed for bankruptcy this past May, and around the same time began closing 400 of its nearly 1,200 stores in 48 states to focus on the remaining locations.
RadioShack filed for bankruptcy for the second time in two years this March, then closed more than 1,000 of its electronics retail stores over Memorial Day weekend. The company plans to migrate more business to its online store and focus on its remaining 70 locations -- stark contrast from 7,300 at the peak of the company's 96-year history.
Crocs -- the shoe company known for its multi-colored, comfy-but-ugly foam clogs -- is in the process of closing 158 retail stores of its total 558. By closing a full quarter of its locations, Crocs hopes to compensate for a dwindling interest in in-person retail and its quirky footwear that previously led the company to close nearly 100 stores in 2014.
Once one of North America's largest apparel manufacturers and marketers with the unique pedigree of employing only American labor, American Apparel hadn't made a profit since 2009 when it filed for bankruptcy back in 2015. After a second filing in November 2016, the company was purchased by Gildan Activewear in January and began closing its remaining 110 retail stores.
It seems Staples might never recover from the hit its stock took when the Federal Trade Commission denied a proposed merger with Office Depot in May 2016. The office supplies retailer sold its U.K. operations in November of the same year, announced the closure of 70 locations in North America in March 2017, and was then sold to a private-equity firm in June.
GameStop's sales have understandably been impacted by the trend of video game-makers more often making their games available to purchase and download online with services like Xbox Game Pass. The video game retailer announced plans early this year to close 150 stores, while opening more locations of its new Technology Brand stores that include cellphone retailers like Spring Mobile, and more locations of its Collectibles stores, which feature ThinkGeek apparel.
Liquidation sales started in early February for 120 mostly U.S.-based stores formerly owned by high-end women's clothing line BCBG, which filed for bankruptcy at the same time. The global brand founded by Tunisian designer Max Azria was acquired in July by Marquee Brands and Global Brands Group.
Wet Seal filed for bankruptcy protection a second time in January 2017 and announced intentions to close all its 171 remaining stores. The retail company formerly known for selling budget brand name or company-designed apparel doesn't appear to be gone for good, however, as its website currently talks about "crafting the Seal of the future" and advertises a new collection coming soon.
The opulent department store Neiman Marcus -- at one point notorious for it overpriced, purposely tattered clothes like mud-stained jeans for $425 -- isn't doing as well financially as its target shoppers. The company put itself up for sale in March, but its CEO announced in June her intentions to continue Neiman Marcus as an independent company after all, despite a high debt and an overall decline in store traffic.
FAMILY CHRISTIAN STORES
The world's largest Christian-focused retailer became yet another casualty of the retail apocalypse on Feb. 23, when Family Christian announced plans to close its remaining 240 stores in 36 states by May. The company had previously transitioned to a nonprofit organization in 2013 and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2015.
Electronics retailer hhgregg was just revived as an online-only business in August, after a particularly rough half-year. The company announced it was filing bankruptcy and closing 88 of its 220 stores in March, then one month later, after failing to find a buyer, moved to close all remaining stores by May 25.
ABERCROMBIE & FITCH
After it's finished closing 60 of its mostly mall-based locations in the U.S. as their leases expire in 2017, Abercrombie & Fitch will have 670 remaining stores, down from 839 five years earlier. The company has yet to file for bankruptcy -- except for once in 1976 -- but was briefly in talks to sell itself from May to July, before negotiations failed and sent the company's stock falling.
Clothing company The Limited seemingly ended its 54 years of business on Jan. 9, when it closed all 250 of its stores, liquidating roughly 4,000 jobs. It filed for bankruptcy and stopped website sales just over a week later, though the site still suggests The Limited's return as an online-only business. There's a gift card giveaway offer on the site and the promise of a soon-to-arrive fall collection.