Those who are unfamiliar with the Retail Apocalypse might have seen some of the signs. In short, the term refers to the closures of brick-and-mortar stores that have been happening throughout North America throughout the 2010s. So far, there have been thousands and thousands of such closures, which have been enough to bring down entire store chains. There isn’t a single cause for the Retail Apocalypse. Instead, there are a number, which have had various effects to various extents.
For instance, a number of retailers made themselves vulnerable by borrowing significant sums of money for the purpose of buying out other retailers. Certainly, this practice has enabled these retailers to expand their presence, but in exchange, it has rendered them more susceptible to a wide range of issues such as rising rents, reduced revenues, and the over-expansion of malls. On their own, these issues might not have been catastrophic, but when combined, their impact on the relevant retailers has been much more serious in nature.
However, there have been broader problems as well. One excellent example would be what some parties have called the middle-class squeeze, which can be summed up as a combination of a fall in income for the middle class with a rise in the costs of education, housing, and healthcare. Since these items are necessities, it shouldn’t be too difficult to guess what kinds of expenditures get cut before them. Another excellent example would be the rise of Amazon, which is a much cheaper as well as a much more convenient shopping option than most brick-and-mortar retailers for a wide range of products. As a result, a lot of brick-and-mortar retailers have been taking hard hits because of e-commerce, thus explaining why those that remain have been scrambling to differentiate themselves by focusing on their shopping experiences for interested individuals.
What Are Some Stores That Are Susceptible to the Retail Apocalypse?
Various brick-and-mortar retailers have come up with various counters to the numerous issues hat trouble them. However, while some of them have had some success, the same can’t be said for all of them. As a result, interested parties are keeping a watchful eye on a number of store chains that are thought to be more vulnerable than others at this point in time.
For example, if people asked about the next retailer to go under, there are a fair number of them that will respond “Sears” without even needing to think about the question. In fact, there is a good chance that there are even more people who will be confused by the question because they will assume that Sears has already gone under. After all, the retailer filed for bankruptcy in 2018, which was followed up by the closures of more than 200 stores. If it wasn’t for the fact that the Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert managed to organize a buyout of the retailer, Sears would be well on its way to its conclusion. However, even now, its prospects for the long run are not looking so good because the problems that reduced its around 2,000 stores in the early 2010s to around 425 stores in the present time have not gone away. As such, concerned individuals are right to be skeptical about Sears’s continuing existence.
With that said, Sears is far from being the sole retailer on bad footing. Another store chain that has been withering for some time is J.C. Penney, which has been announcing store closures for years and years while it struggles to come up with a new approach that will enable it to survive in the new retail environment. Certainly, its size means that it will be able to soak up those losses for some time, but in the end, there is a limit to how many hits even the biggest companies can take before they start falling to their knees. Similarly, Gap has announced more than 200 closures in 2019 and 2020, which most interested individuals expected to some extent because its CEO outright announced last fall that there was a good chance that it would have to close hundreds of stores that failed to live up to its requirements. Furthermore, it should be mentioned that Gap is set to spin off Old Navy as its own corporation in the not too distant future, which has interesting implications. Besides these store chains, others that have either run into trouble or are expected to run into trouble include range from Ascena Retail to Victoria’s Secret.