Traditional retailers are under tremendous pressure from online and other forces. But how bad is it? And what can retailers do to remain competitive? Formerly successful retailers like Borders, Aeropostale, RadioShack and Payless Shoes have gone bankrupt under the online onslaught. Just recently, the “category killer” Toys”R”Us filed for bankruptcy. While other retailers are keeping their heads above water for now, the signs are ominous for others, as major retailers like Sears, J.C. Penney, Macy’s and Kohl’s continue to close hundreds of stores.
Fung Global Retail & Technology predicted a new high in yearly store closings, forecasting a total of 9,452 for 2017. This is a year-over-year increase of 361 percent. Although this sounds bad, and it is for a lot of retailers, some of this is due to retail being “overbuilt,” fueled in part by low interest rates. And while the closings are concentrated on clothing and department store segments, many retailers, especially discounters, are growing. Dollar General opened 1,290 new stores in 2017, and plans 900 more in 2018. Dollar Tree, Aldi and Lidl are also opening new stores. Tellingly, it’s the discounters that are making the biggest inroads; those best priced against their online rivals.