By Alan Wolf

The much over-hyped “retail apocalypse” may be rearing its ugly head again, at least within the chain-store channel.

According to the latest real estate tally by the retail analysts at Coresight Research, some 7,062 chain store locations have closed this year, compared to 5,864 in all of 2018, CBS News reported.

Most of this year’s carnage came from high-profile bankruptcies and liquidations, including full-line discounter Shopko; children’s clothing retailer Gymboree; women’s clothier Dressbarn; and the Payless shoe store chain.

Others have closed or plan to shutter scores of stores, including RTO furniture and tech chain Rent-a-Center; regional discounter Fred’s; national pharmacies CVS and Walgreens; No. 2 office supply chain Office Depot; the struggling JCPenney; and even Lowe’s, Big Lots and Walmart, Coresight said.

And, of course, Sears and Kmart, which emerged from bankruptcy earlier this year, continue to shed stores.

Analysts at Moody’s and UBS variously attribute the consolidation to high debt levels – which ultimately did in Toys “R” Us – and to online competition, chiefly from Amazon, CBS said. Others believe the retail marketplace has long been overstored and is simply returning to more sustainable levels after the aggressive real estate buildout of the last several decades.

Nonetheless, some retailers remain in expansion mode, which further belies the apocalyptic premise.  According to Coresight, 3,017 new stores have opened year to date, resulting in a net loss of 4,045 locations, vs. the 7,062 closures in total.

YSN is published by BrandSource parent company AVB Inc.

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