- For the first time in 2021, store closures have declined year over year, according to an emailed report from Coresight Research.
- The firm tracked 4,626 closures so far this year, 5.7% fewer than last year at this time. Leading retailers in closures so far is Christopher & Banks, which liquidated its physical footprint in bankruptcy this year. Another recent retail bankruptcy, Francesca's, closed 342 stores, a significant chunk of its footprint.
- Openings to date stand at 4,311, a 41.8% increase over the same period in 2020. The runaway leader in openings is Dollar General, with 1,035 new stores this year, followed by Dollar Tree with 393 openings.
After a harrowing pandemic and global recession, retail had few places to go in 2021 but up. From earnings of individual companies to U.S. Census sales reports, there is reason for hope across the industry.
Coresight's latest report is another data point showing how retail is recovering from the wretched year of 2020. Earlier this year, for a moment, openings even outpaced closures, according to Coresight. As the year has worn on, closures have overtaken openings again, however.
Still, the surge in openings this year compared to last is a sign that retailers are confident in the future of their business, including in brick and mortar, despite the lingering impact of the pandemic and shifts among consumers toward more digital shopping.
While Dollar General and other dollar stores, including Dollar Tree and Five Below, account for more than a fourth of all openings, a whole range of retailers are opening new shops. Burlington, Tractor Supply, Ross Stores, the revived Payless, Old Navy, Target, Ulta, Nike, the revived Charming Charlie and many others have all opened stores this year, according to Coresight.
As for the slowed pace of closures this year, one reason is likely the similarly slowed pace of retail bankruptcies, which often dominate the ranks of closures. Major retail bankruptcies tracked by Retail Dive had already hit 15 by this time last year, and many of them closed stores or liquidated entirely. That figure is almost twice the number of retailers that have filed for bankruptcy so far this year.
Retailers both healthy and distressed have been lifted by the vaccine rollout, government stimulus, booming financial markets — which have been crucial for keeping weaker retailers afloat — and a general return of customers to stores.