Coronavirus could cause a record 15,000 stores to close in 2020

By Khristopher J. Brooks

/ MoneyWatch

Senate strikes deal on virus relief bill

The widening coronavirus pandemic could permanently shutter 15,000 stores across the U.S., according to a new analysis. That would top the previous high for retail industry closures set last year, when more than 9,500 stores shut their doors.

"We anticipate some of the retailers that recently announced temporary store closures — including some well-known names — will never reopen their doors," Deborah Weinswig and Vineeth Gangadharan of Coresight Research, which tracks retail industry trends, wrote in a report.

COVID-19 fears have already caused dozens of companies, including major players such as Apple, Ikea and Nike to temporarily close shop. More than 47,000 stores across the nation closed in 10 days, a Bloomberg analysis shows.

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At least 55,225 people in the U.S. had tested positive and 802 had died as of Wednesday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Mass social distancing has meant fewer customers visiting stores. Department, clothing and home improvement stores could see the biggest hit from coronavirus, according to Coresight.

Many likely won't return because "the debilitating impact of the coronavirus on sales will likely quell hopes of survival," Weinswig and Gangadharan said.

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About 1,880 stores have already closed this year, including 304 from nutritional supplements store GNC and 178 at stationery store Papyrus. Art Van Furniture, Pier 1 Imports and Gap have also closed locations. Westfield and Simon — two of the nation's largest mall owners — have also temporarily closed their properties this month.

Modell's Sporting Goods, which had long struggled before the coronavirus outbreak, filed for bankruptcy earlier this month and said it would close its 153 stores. Department store Neiman Marcus is reportedly exploring bankruptcy as well.

"The economic harm from social distancing and mandatory store closures is real," the Council of Fashion Designers of America and the National Retail Federation said in March 21 letter to President Donald Trump outlining the industry's case for bailout funding. "Layoffs and economic hardship will surely follow, particularly for smaller, specialty retailers and brands."

First published on March 25, 2020 / 12:10 PM

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