This list was last updated at 12:10 pm on July 6, 2020 to change the number of store closures so far in 2020 to 8,702 from an initial count of 9,274. The initial tally miscounted store closures for Chuck E Cheese.
The list of store closings is already very long and may be much longer by the end of the year. The coronavirus pandemic has left many companies in horrible shape. Some have had to declare bankruptcy while others have closed some of their units. Many employees have not been recalled to work as the pandemic has raged on, and there has been a paucity of customers since they are scared they might contract the virus.
Debt is now the common enemy. Every retailer who had high debt before all of this started is closing some stores and cutting back on new projects. At a time like this, ability to raise cash and to maintain a semblance of free cash flow is quite difficult even as it is invaluable and enviable for most retailers. Many have had to rely on more borrowing to sustain their business. It has left their future uncertain.
We are witnessing a retail apocalypse. It began in 2010 when brick-and-mortar stores started to close and has only gotten worse over time. I am listing below 8,708 store units that will close this year. The figure is most certainly going to rise by the end of the year and surpass 2019 levels when 9,302 stores closed their doors. In 2018, 5,700 stores closed, and in 2017, 8,000 stores were shuttered.
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Retailers are shrinking their physical presence because more of their business is now taking place online. Today, many retailers achieve 35% or more of their sales through increasingly more sophisticated e-commerce—via their websites and other social platforms. It is remarkable how quickly shoppers have changed from buying in physical stores to online. Before the pandemic, people were still spending on clothing and décor items to beautify their homes. But pressure of time forced many to purchase at off-hours and rely on the convenience of online shopping. The pandemic, even as it shifted spending more to household necessities, only reinforced the reliance on e-commerce.