Biggest Store Closings Since 2020
Store closings have been rampant since the pandemic. Walmart, Best Buy, Bed Bath & Beyond and Kmart are among the biggest.
Worst Store Closures Since 2020
Kmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, even Walmart — store closures have been rampant since 2020. While a lot of these stores haven’t closed permanently, signs indicate that they’re on the way out.
Brick-and-mortar retailers were hit hard not only by the pandemic but by the proliferation of easy access to online shopping. Retailers that haven’t declared bankruptcy and shuttered their doors are increasingly looking toward online sales.
Let’s take a look at some of the highest-profile store closures since 2020.
Bed Bath & Beyond Stores Closing
Year founded: 1971
Revenue: $9.23 billion
Stores in 2020: 1,500
Stores in 2022: 1,020
The scoop: Bed Bath & Beyond, a luxury home goods store, reportedly got struck hard by supply-chain issues — closing nearly 500 stores. Executives noted that customer experience was poor due to the empty shelves, and the company’s profits plummeted. That said, Bed Bath & Beyond appears to be poised for a rebound; the company pointed to further interest in its subscription programs.
* While some stores are U.S.-based only, the store numbers included throughout the story are worldwide, unless otherwise noted. The revenue numbers are the most recent we could find on record.
Bed Bath & Beyond: Is It Dying?
Well, maybe. Bed Bath & Beyond continues to close stores. While Bed Bath & Beyond shares have been soaring, a large part of this is because it’s a meme stock. Meme stocks are stocks chosen by the r/WallStreetBets subreddit (colloquially known as r/WSB) for what amounts to the stock market equivalent of gambling.
For Bed Bath & Beyond, sales were slumping even before COVID, starting in 2018. In large part, this may simply be economic friction; luxury goods go down when the economy suffers.
Kmart Store Closures
Year founded: 1899
Stores in 2020:34
Stores in 2022:3
The scoop: There was a time when Kmart operated 2,400 stores. Now, it’s virtually gone. Kmart’s reality was that it just couldn’t compete with Walmart’s low prices and Target’s similar business model. While some of the properties on this list may be coming back, the final nail is in the coffin for this 1990s mainstay.
Kmart: What’s Next
Kmart is dead. There are only three locations left. Perhaps like Blockbuster (which still maintains a single location), these three Kmarts will continue to remain open, if only to keep the company “open” and alive.
Kmart, like Sears, closed its doors because consumers have shifted away from brick-and-mortar retailers and toward online shopping. And it’s likely there will be other chains lost in this disruption.
Walmart Closing Stores
Year founded: 1962
Stores in 2020: 11,501
Stores in 2022:10,593
The scoop: Let’s be clear about it: Walmart’s not going away. In fact, the number of Walmart Supercenters has slightly increased in the U.S. since 2020. But some have been panicked by Walmart’s recent announcement of store closures. The reality is that Walmart is only closing a handful of stores. So, why are people concerned? Largely because it represents a shift in direction; Walmart is closing these stores as it bolsters its online and delivery services.
Walmart: How Many Jobs Lost
If Walmart isn’t really going down, why are so many people panicking? Walmart employs 2.3 million associates across 10,500 stores across the globe. That’s an average of 220 people per store. If Walmart shuts down five stores, more than 1,000 people lose their jobs.
Walmart employs more people than some small nations. Should Walmart decide to shut down more locations in lieu of online retailing, the economic impact could be devastating.
CVS Closing Stores
Year founded: 1963
Stores in 2020: 9,962
Stores in 2022:9,600
The scoop: In one of the more alarming announcements on this list, U.S.-based CVS reported that it would be closing 300 stores a year over the next three years — that's a total of 900 stores. But this isn’t the beginning of the end for CVS (at least, ostensibly). CVS claims to be pivoting into the online market, rather than continuing to compete with Walgreens and other brick-and-mortar pharmaceutical companies. Whether this will be a positive move depends largely on the competition.
CVS: What About the Competition
Everyone wants to get into the online pharmacy market. In 2020, Amazon launched an online pharmaceuticals portion of their site — which claimed to offer discounts of up to 80 percent on generics, even for those without insurance. In 2022, famous entrepreneur Mark Cuban released his online pharmacy, Cost Plus Drug Company, providing medications at near wholesale prices.
Customers are increasingly moving to online pharmacies for their needs, but the question remains whether CVS can be competitive.
Godiva: All Retail Stores Closed
Year founded: 1926
Stores in 2020:650 (worldwide)
Stores in 2022: 0 (in North America)
The scoop: In 2021, Belgium-headquartered Godiva made the shocking move of closing all its North American retail stores. You can still purchase Godiva chocolates in the grocery aisle (although they’ll be pre-packaged, not specialty) or order them online, but otherwise, you’re out of luck. While the closures were prompted by the pandemic, the Godiva cafes throughout North America were also a bit of an experiment, so it’s possible they would have faltered regardless.
Godiva: Where Can You Get Your Chocolate
Godiva chocolates are available in Target, Walgreens, CVS, Costco, and Kroger. But if you enjoyed going to the chocolate counter and picking out specific truffles, you’re going to be in for a disappointment; these are just the prepackaged collections.
If you really want to get the full Godiva experience, you will need to go online.
American Eagle: Closing 250 Stores
Year founded: 1977
Stores in 2020:880 (in the U.S. and Canada)
Stores in 2022: Exact number unknown
The scoop: American Eagle Outfitters, which owns and operates the American Eagle and Aerie brands, announced in early 2021 that it planned to close about a quarter of its American Eagle branded stores throughout North America. At the same time, it’s expanding Aerie, its lingerie and activewear brand. The reason might be obvious: When was the last time you shopped at American Eagle? Like many other companies, American Eagle is seeing most of its sales coming from its online venues rather than its brick-and-mortar stores.
American Eagle: The Death of the Mall Brands
Why are so many clothing stores suffering? A lot of it has to do with the plentiful amount of fast fashion available now online. A lot of brands have been diluted; thanks to fast fashion, people care less about brand identity with clothes.
But another part of it is that American Eagle and many other clothing brands (like Forever 21) was a mall brand. As malls die, so do they.
The Gap: 60 Stores Closed
Year founded: 1969
Stores in 2020:3,100
Stores in 2022:3,050
The scoop: Gap Inc. has reported that it will be opening 30 to 40 Old Navy and Athleta stores but closing 50 to 60 Gap and Banana Republic stores. You may not have realized that all these brands were under the same umbrella, but this shows another pronounced shift toward fast fashion and athletic gear on par with that of American Eagle Outfitters.
The Gap: An Online Success
Unlike a lot of other clothing retailers, Gap is actually doing great. Gap has embraced online retail and is doing good business there, so these store closures just represent a small pivot in its business model.
With a lot of its revenue now coming from online sales, it only makes sense to start closing down brick-and-mortar stores. And shoppers don't fret — Gap still has quite a few brick-and-mortar stores.
Victoria’s Secret Closes 50 Stores
Year founded: 1977
Revenue: $11.84 billion
Stores in 2020: 846 (in the U.S.)
Stores in 2022: 807 (in the U.S.)
The scoop: L Brands, which previously owned both Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works before recently separating the two companies, announced in February 2021 its plans to close 30 to 50 lingerie stores in favor of Bath & Body Works locations. But Victoria’s Secret had started fading well before 2020. In 2016, there were 1,177 North American locations — by 2020, there were only 871. The company noted that “Pink” brand offshoots of Victoria’s Secret (more casual, more comfortable) were already eating up space.
Victoria’s Secret: Changing Tastes
Victoria’s Secret has been suffering under the weight of its own branding for years now. First, it’s a mall brand, and as we’ve seen, mall clothing brands just aren’t doing great. Second, it’s always been “attractive first, comfortable second.”
As we can see from L Brands shifting to the self-care megalith Bath & Body Works, people are putting a premium on comfort more than looks. Ultimately, Victoria’s Secret is just out of luck and out of touch. We'll see if the company's new brand geared toward preteens will make a difference later in 2022. Regardless, it will be online only.
Macy’s Closing Stores
Year founded: 1858
Stores in 2020: 789
Stores in 2022: Unknown
The scoop: Macy’s will only be closing a few locations in 2022, but the brand has been struggling for some time. Macy’s went from 868 global stores in 2015 to 789 stores in 2020. According to all reports, Macy’s is expected to continue closing stores throughout the next few years. This is part of an ongoing strategy to close one-fifth of its stores.
Macy’s: The Mall Cornerstone
Have you ever seen a Macy’s not attached to a mall? Macy’s is another store that’s suffered from being associated so closely with mall atmospheres; when people don’t go to a mall, they don’t go to a Macy’s.
But that also begs a broader question: What is becoming of the empty Macy’s buildings? Grocery stores, gyms and even movie theaters appear to be taking over the behemoth spaces.
Justice Closing 600 Stores
Year founded: 2004
Stores in 2020: 820
Stores in 2022: 0
The scoop: If you don’t have a preteen or tween in your family, you’ve probably never heard of Justice. But you’ve probably heard of Lane Bryant, Catherine’s or Loft, all brands owned by the same company, New Jersey-based Ascena. The parent company filed for bankruptcy, leading to the closure of all Justice locations, among other brand closures.
Justice: 1,600 Stores in Total
As part of the bankruptcy filing in July 2020, Ascena had to shutter 1,600 of the 2,800 stores it owned — mainly Justice and Catherine's stores. Once again, it’s the mall issue; these were all mall-based stores that people would venture to only because they passed them by.
As malls are starting to get turned into medical centers and even schools, these stores are becoming a vanishing breed. But it appears Justice is easily transitioning online.
JC Penney Declares Bankruptcy, Closes Stores
Year founded: 1902
Stores in 2020:820
Stores in 2022: 669
The scoop: U.S.-only JC Penney closed 170 locations in 2020 and continues to reduce its retail footprint. Surprisingly, there are still over 600 JC Penney locations, but they have been consistently vanishing over the years, with 1,104 locations in 2012 going down to 872 in 2017. But what happened in 2017?
JC Penney: A Messy 2017
The 2017 year started off with a poor earnings report for JC Penney — a situation which continued to spiral. Customers stopped shopping there, prompting the company to start closing stores and making large-scale changes to its own infrastructure.
Ultimately, this led to bankruptcy just a few years later.
Fry’s Electronic Shuts Down
Year founded: 1985
Revenue: $2.3 billion
Stores in 2020:30
Stores in 2022: 0
The scoop: In 2021, beloved electronics chain Fry’s Electronics stunned its fans by going out of business. At its peak, Fry’s electronics had a total of 34 stores, while at the time of the shutdown, it had 30. It was a well-known West Coast staple where many people purchased their electronics and peripherals. In its wake, it left 18,000 employees unemployed.
Fry’s Electronics: A Changed Market
Realistically, no one was hit harder by the COVID pandemic than the electronics market. Even if grocery stores had to deal with supply chain issues, they still could sell something. But electronics companies found themselves without anything to sell due to the major microchip shortage.
Ultimately, it may not have been cost-effective to continue to run the company.
Best Buy Lays Off 5,000 Employees
Year founded: 1966
Stores in 2020:977
Stores in 2022:956
The scoop: Best Buy has been aggressively closing stores and laying off employees. The consumer electronics retailer noted that it has about 450 leases coming up for renewal within the next few years, so it’s possible that many of these locations will be closed in the near future. So far, 5,000 employees lost their jobs in 2021. In 2022, we may see that number increase, although the company appears to be holding on.
Best Buy: Amazon’s Showroom
Many have begun to refer to Best Buy as Amazon’s showroom; people look at things at Best Buy and then buy them online. The company has suffered under the weight of its own overhead, unable to match the prices of online retailers for the exact same products.
Best Buy itself noted that it has to adjust to the post-pandemic marketplace.
GameStop Closes Hundreds of Stores
Year founded: 1984
Stores in 2020:3,642 (in the U.S.)
Stores in 2022:3,014
The scoop: Let’s talk about GameStop. There was a time when it was one of the best places to buy video games. Then, games started to go digital. GameStop started aggressively closing stores: 400 here, 300 there. But then a whole thing with the internet happened. How is GameStop doing now?
GameStop: Debt Eliminated
Once GameStop became a meme stock, it was flooded with cash and was able to eliminate a significant portion of its debt. But all that money may not be able to compensate for a failing business model.
GameStop wasn’t completely associated with malls (although the association was there), but largely the game retailer just couldn’t compete with digital downloads. Time will tell whether the franchise can successfully pivot.
Amazon Closes 68 Bookstores
Year founded: 1994
Stores in 2020:89
Stores in 2022:21
The scoop: You may not have been aware that Amazon had physical bookstores. But it goes like this: Amazon.com launches and puts brick-and-mortar bookstores out of business. Amazon then, seeing there are no physical bookstores, puts in physical bookstores. And then, Amazon’s physical bookstores go out of business.
Amazon: Grocery Stores v. Retail Trade
Physical stores are a vanishingly small part of Amazon’s current revenue. But Amazon is holding on to its grocery stores, which it purchased in the form of Whole Foods.
So, while you can’t shop in an Amazon bookstore, you can still shop in an Amazon store — whenever you go to buy food.