HARLINGEN — The year is turning into a bloodbath for national retailers.
Already, the number of store closings since the first of the year has surpassed the entire number of shutdowns in 2018 — 5,994 compared to 5,864 for all of 2018.
The high number this year is due to the impact of the Payless ShoeSource implosion, which accounted for 2,300 of the roughly 6,000 store closure announcements for 2019. That includes 21 Payless stores in the Rio Grande Valley.
Payless, Charlotte Russe, JC Penney, Signet Jewelers, Victoria’s Secret and Family Dollar are planning to shut down stores this year.
The pain national retailers are feeling is a combination of pressures from online shopping and changing customer tastes when it comes to deciding where to shop.
Last week, the nation’s largest jewelry chain, Signet Jewelers, which owns the Kay Jewelers, Jared and Zales brands, announced it would close 150 stores this year in what appears to be an attempt to diminish its mall presence.
That could be bad news for Harlingen’s Valle Vista mall (Kay), La Plaza Mall in McAllen (Kay, Jared) and Sunrise Mall in Brownsville (Kay, Jared, Zales). No store closings list has yet been released, however.
Signet closed 262 stores in fiscal year 2019 and the upcoming closures in fiscal 2020 will primarily be at malls.
“In fiscal 2020, the company expects to close more than 150 stores, with limited new store openings primarily consisting of repositions to off-mall locations,” the company reported in a statement. “By the end of fiscal 2020, the company expects it will have reduced its store base by 13 percent over a three-year period.”
Retailers have been looking to cut costs and focus on investing in stores with high-volume sales to offset online competition.
Still, the National Retail Foundation forecasts 2019 retail sales will increase between 3.8 percent and 4.4 percent to more than $3.8 trillion.
Analysts for the world’s largest trade association say that in 2018 retail sales grew 4.6 percent over 2017 to $3.68 trillion, which bettered the growth forecast. Those numbers include both online and other non-store sales, which were up 10.4 percent at $682.8 billion.
It seems people are still shopping, but in new ways and at different places.
Payless ShoeSource closings
Brownsville — six locations
McAllen — five locations
Harlingen — three locations
Edinburg — two locations
San Benito — one location
Weslaco — one location
Pharr — one location
Rio Grande City — one location
Roma — one location