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Bankruptcy sounds pretty bad. But sometimes, it's the best option out there — something that Aerosoles, the latest American retailer to file for Chapter 11, may want to keep in mind. Declaring bankruptcy is certainly a sign of business gone south, but it's also a last-ditch way for a retailer to save itself, something BCBG is attempting to do right now.
It also buys retailers time for another painful but strategic move: closing stores. As of this summer, Gymboree planned to close up to 450 stores. Up to 650 stores are set to close by the parent company of Ann Taylor, Lane Bryant, and Dress Barn. Michael Kors says it will close 250 as well. And that's after Wet Seal and Bebe announced they're each closing all their stores earlier in 2017.
US giants, from mall icons and strip mall staples to department store behemoths and the malls themselves, are against the ropes. Many of the icons we've known for decades, from Macy's to Abercrombie and Fitch, face mounting debts and low profits, not to mention the inherent problem of being, well, known for decades and lacking excitement and innovation.
Part of the problem is geography, as malls fade as shopping destinations. Then there are the changes in shopping habits: A 2016 survey of 5,000 online shoppers found, for the first time, that consumers bought more stuff online than they did in stores. It's not hard to find a particular culprit for this change, and it rhymes with "Shmamazon."
Then there's the problem of the clothing itself. Retailers like J.Crew and Gap have seen their stars fade as shoppers move on to trendier styles at fast fashion giants like H&M and Zara — and at prices the seemingly old-school companies are having trouble competing with.
So stores are struggling, downsizing, closing, consolidating... basically trying everything to turn things around and retool in an ever-changing shopping landscape. We're tracking all the changes — and what they mean for shoppers — here.