We’re in peak retail apocalypse. More than 6,000 store closures have been announced so far in 2019, including Payless ShoeSource, Gymboree, and Gap, according to CNBC. That’s actually already higher than all of 2018, when 5,864 stores shuttered.
The latest victim? Dressbarn. Ascena, the brand’s holding company, says it wants to focus on its more profitable brands, which include Ann Taylor and Loft. As a result it is shuttering all 650 of its stores, although these closures will happen slowly. Dressbarn has been a fixture on the mall landscape for half a century and catered to middle-aged women. But like many other mall brands, it did not evolve quickly enough to keep up with the changing shopping habits of consumers, who increasingly buy products online.
But in the wake of these closures, a new kind of company is stepping in. Newer, digitally native companies that target millennials, like Warby Parker, Away, and Glossier, are now expanding heavily into physical retail stores. These brands are opening stores with a smaller footprint and create interesting in-store experiences to entice customers.
We’ve been seeing large-scale store closures happening since 2017, when thousands of stores closed en masse. But this latest news shows that the retail apocalypse is far from over.