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For ladies of a certain age — a relatively young age, let's be clear — Claire's was the illest of mall stores, a place that reeked of teenage fear and excitement. We lusted after the walls of body glitter, quirky socks, and tiaras. We all know a girl who couldn't handle getting her second ear pierced after one lobe was finished. Piercing Pagoda had nothing on it, honestly.
Tweens today, it seems, are not quite so thirsty for Claire's. The store chain's sales have been dropping in the last few years, and its most recent quarter, the results of which it reported Wednesday, was no exception. In the first quarter of 2016, which ended April 30, Claire's sales came in at $299.6 million — down from $320 million during the same period in 2015. In the first quarter of 2014, the company's sales were at $353 million; in 2013, that was $354 million. You can figure out the pattern.
On top of that, Claire's net loss (the difference between its expenses and revenue) widened to $38.8 million from $35.4 million the year before.
It's not hard to find evidence that malls and the store chains that inhabit them are struggling these days. For the last few years, headlines have proclaimed that the American mall is "dying a slow, ugly death," that it's in a state of crisis, that storefronts continue to empty. And as SF Gate reported in December, teenagers' spending money tends to go toward eating out with friends, buying music, and electronics — not, apparently, ear cuffs embellished with charms in the shape of peace signs, groovy looking flowers, and bows.
Teens back in the day would have loved those. Just saying.