Major retailers this year have announced 7,567 store closures as of July 31, according to the latest tracking information from Coresight Research. That is up from 5,524 closures in all of 2018, according to the report, which was emailed to Retail Dive.
Most affected are apparel specialty stores, which so far have announced 2,750 closures — 36% of the total, compared to 14% of 2018's closures. Footwear stores represent 28% of this year's announcements (8% last year) and general merchandise stores 14% (2% last year). Food retailers have announced just 23 closures.
Major retailers are also opening stores, however — 3,064 as of July 31, compared to 3,258 in the whole of 2018, according to the report. General merchandisers, including the booming dollar store segment, represent 57% of those, with 1,739 store openings. Apparel retailers have announced just 318 openings, and food retailers just 228.
Store closure announcements haven't much slowed since July 31, the date Coresight's numbers come from. Walgreens alone said it would shutter 200 locations in the U.S. last week, on top of the 195 the drugstore had previously announced.
Many closures come amid bankruptcy or post-bankruptcy restructuring. Sears, which exited its Chapter 11 proceedings in February, had announced 72 closures as of July 31, but Coresight notes that another 21 stores were added to that list early this month. Payless is "the single-biggest contributor" to the closure count, with 2,100 stores closed after its second bankruptcy in two years.
Other bankruptcy closings include children's apparel chain Gymboree, which shuttered 749 U.S. stores; apparel specialist Charlotte Russe, which has said it will wind down at least 500 stores; and Charming Charlie, which plans to close all 261 stores. Shopko filed for bankruptcy in January, got the green light to liquidate in June and shuttered the doors of all 371 locations by then.
Not all pull-backs entail bankruptcy, however. Ascena Retail Group, in the midst of a turnaround, in May said it will give up its Dressbarn discount apparel banner and close all of its stores.
Supplements retailer GNC is abandoning most traditional malls in favor of strip malls, which will entail shuttering 700-900 stores by the end of next year, which Coresight said will likely mean 332 boarded up this year. Dollar Tree's Family Dollar acquisition isn't going well either, and the dollar store retailer in March announced plans to close up to 390 stores this year (Coresight counts 359), with 84 Family Dollar stores already closed in the fourth quarter last year.
Pharmacy retailer Fred's, after an expansion attached to the defunct Walgreens-Rite Aid merger fell through, has said it will close 313 locations, Coresight noted.
Not in Coresight's report is the swift shut-down of plus-size apparel retailer Avenue, which this week acknowledged that it's shutting down all 222 or so of its locations. Additionally, A'gaci recently filed Chapter 11 and stated it was going to close its 54 brick-and-mortar locations.
Retail openings, meanwhile, are notably found among value retailers. By Coresight's measure, Dollar General has plans to open 975, Dollar Tree 348 and Family Dollar 202, with those three accounting "for 88% of sector openings announced this year, reflecting the proliferation of discount stores in the US retail landscape."
In apparel, off-price retailers are leading, with Ross Stores planning 100 new stores and Burlington 50, Coresight said. And in food retail, low-price grocer Aldi said in 2017 that it will open some 2,500 locations by the end of 2022, prompting Coresight to estimate that about 159 will likely open this year.
The pain isn't likely to abate any time soon, Coresight warned.
"Overall, with the number of announced closures in 2019 already surpassing the total number of closures in 2018, and standing at more than double the number of year-to-date announced openings, this year continues to represent testing times for brick-and-mortar retail and we expect this theme to continue in the second half of the year," according to the report.