10,000 more retail stores expected to close under weight of pandemic

As many as 10,000 stores could vanish from the retail landscape by the end of the year as more and more consumers turn to online shopping amid the unrelenting COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new market forecast.

The high number of 2021 closures could end up reflecting a 14% rise from those reported last year when 8,700 stores closed for good, according to Coresight Research, a retail data tracker.

Clothing and apparel accounted for the most stores closed in 2020.

Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, more than 3,000 stores that sell clothing, footwear and accessories have shuttered.

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Ascena Retail Group, owner of Ann Taylor and Lane Bryant, was particularly hard hit with more than 1,100 store locations wiped off the map, more than any other rival. By the end of 2021, Ascena will close another 195 brick-and-mortar stores, CBS News reported.

During the last year, just about every sector of retail business has been touched in some way.

Malls are also struggling mightily under the weight of the pandemic.

Big department stores such as Macy’s had always been a mainstay at malls as they lured retail traffic to smaller shops, kiosks and food courts, providing much-needed financial stability.

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But the pandemic crippled what had been a surefire business model as many shoppers bypassed malls in favor of buying online. High-end department stores in particular have struggled more than other retailers including Walmart and Target.

As millions of people have lost jobs or continue to work from home, the demand for clothing and apparel has all but vanished. Additionally, the rise of consignment and thrift stores — coupled with a dramatic surge in online shopping — has steered many consumers away from big stores.

The one positive sign in the Coresight research showed an uptick in business among discount retailers, which opened roughly 3,300 stores last year.

In early September, Macy’s announced it was planning to abandon its core position as an anchor tenant at some shopping malls around the country and move into smaller, standalone stores in an effort to regain footing.

Others have been forced to throw in the towel altogether.

Pier 1 Imports filed for bankruptcy nearly a year ago and closed its entire fleet of 936 stores.

As of Jan. 22, nearly 1,700 retailers have already closed, according to CBS News, adding that 7-Eleven plans to close 300 stores.