It's the age of Amazon, and brick-and-mortar retailers are feeling the pinch.
Amazon's dominance—bolstered by mostly lower prices, more options and increased convenience for shoppers–has caused stores across the mall to take a hit. Teen-apparel retailer Aéropostale filed for bankruptcy in May. Later that month, JC Penney announced that it would cut payroll and freeze overtime for its employees. The bad news isn't only recent: In 2015, Penney announced it would close 40 locations, while fellow mall giant Sears has shuttered more than 200 locations over the past two years.
Meanwhile, in its most recent earnings report, Amazon posted profits for the fourth consecutive quarter. The price of shares of Amazon stock has spiked by about 30% since February. On the heels of April's stellar earnings, the fortune of its CEO and founder, Jeff Bezos, has soared by $6 billion in just a few hours. The company's first-ever Amazon Prime Day proved to be a bigger sales event than Black Friday last summer, and Amazon is planning a repeat with tens of thousands of sales slated for July 12.
Read More: Blame Amazon for the Retail Slump
Still, some physical store closings are not a sign of troubled times, but rather the sacrifices necessary to achieve greater profitability. That's the case with drug store chain Walgreens, which prepared to sell off more than 1,000 in order to seal a lucrative merger with competitor Rite Aid.
These are some of the most prominent brick-and-mortar stores suffering from a retail slump:
In an effort to reduce expenses, Penney has been steadily closing underperforming stores at the beginning of each year: 33 in 2014, 40 in 2015, and seven in early 2016. In May, the Plano, Texas-based retailer, which has currently more than 1,000 locations nationwide, also announced cost-cutting measures like cutting payroll and eliminating overtime hours for employees. Shares of JC Penney have fallen by more than 25% since March.
This mall anchor—known to many by the titular Thanksgiving Day parade that passes through Herald Square in New York—has been consistently shutting down stores over the past year. In August, Macy's announced that it would shutter 100 stores—following an announcement eight months earlier in which the department store said it would close 36 stores and eliminate 4,500 jobs in an effort to boost profitability. Over the past six years, Macy's has closed more than 90 stores (it currently has more than 675).
In April, Sears Holdings—which owns both Sears and Kmart–announced that it would close 68 Kmarts and 10 Sears locations that were not turning a profit. All the stores are expected to be closed by the end of July. Sears, which is suffering from its largest dip in operating performance since 2006, would have to close 300 existing stores, or more than 40% of its locations, in order to achieve the productivity it enjoyed a decade ago, CBS News reported.
American Eagle Outfitters, which rose to prominence as the outfitter of suburban teenagers, announced in 2014 that it would close 150 of its approximately 1,000 stores over the subsequent three years. Perhaps the efforts are paying off: Share prices of the clothier have remained relatively steady since the beginning of the year, while the stock of other apparel sellers has floundered. American Eagle also said this year that it would roll out a mobile-friendly version of its website, following in the footsteps of retailers like Walmart that are trying to make the online shopping experience more consumer-friendly.
Like teen-clothing competitor American Eagle, Aéropostale is falling on hard times. In May, it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after losing money for 13 consecutive quarters. At the same time, it also announced the closing of 154 of its approximately 800 locations, some of which were set to shut down that same week, and said it may consider shutting down even more stores in the months to come. Like American Eagle, the two face stiff competition from "fast fashion" chains like H&M, which have pulled ahead by putting new styles into production at a fast pace.
The nation's largest sports retailer may have been among the hardest hit by the recent retail slump. After filing for bankruptcy in March, Sports Authority said it would close 140 of its 450 locations. But after failing to find a buyer for its remaining stores, it decided to shut them all down. Before you hit Sports Authority's extensive sale, which began in May and promises more than 70% off merchandise, bear in mind that the best deals aren't likely to appear until closer to the stores' close date of August 31, after bargain hunters have already scoured through the prime offerings.
In order to fund the buyout of rival Office Max in 2014, Office Depot promised to close at least 400 stores by the end of 2016, The Street reported. In 2014, it shuttered 168 locations, followed by 181 in 2015. It also plans to close down about 50 U.S. locations this year, bringing it just one store shy of its stated goal. Office Depot may be forced to shut down even more stores if Staples' impending buyout of the office supply chain does not receive regulatory approval.
The Children's Place
The Children's Place, which reported disappointing earnings in March 2015, upped its planned store closes: from 125 through 2016, to 125 in 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported. In the fourth quarter of 2014 alone, it closed 21 locations. Investors have criticized the children's apparel chain for its poor merchandising decisions and negative sales figures within individual locations.
In April 2015, the largest U.S. pharmacy chain announced that it would close 200 stores as part of an effort to cut costs by $500 million, USA Today reported. But in the future, in order to seal a $17.2 billion merger with Rite Aid, it might be forced to close as many as 1,000 stores. That's a significant portion of Walgreens' more than 8,000 locations in the U.S., but perhaps a worthy sacrifice to join forces with a company with 4,600 stores nationwide.
In an attempt to consolidate, Walmart announced at the beginning of the year that it would shut down 269 locations around the world, including 154 in the U.S., including all 102 of its small-store "Express" locations. Walmart plans to open up more than 500 stores worldwide this year, but these stores will primarily be Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets in locations deemed more lucrative. Additionally, this week, perhaps in an attempt to take on Amazon head-on, Walmart also announced a free two-day shipping service nationwide.
Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble is on the upswing, kind of. The brick-and-mortar book store (yes, those do still exist) plans to close just eight stores this year, the fewest number of locations shut down since 2000. In fact, it's B&N's physical stores that have been propelling the company's growth in the past year, while online sales have plunged by double digits. Still, the number of Barnes & Noble locations has decreased from 798 stores in 2008 to 640 as of early this year.
"Athleisure" attire may be in vogue, especially with the all-important millennial demographic, but sports clothier Finish Line's profits aren't showing it. Early this year, the Indianapolis-based chain said it planned to close 150 of its 617 stores, because they were generating just $1 million each in annual sales, or about half the company average. Finish Line hopes the closures will help cut costs and allow the chain to focus on more profitable locations.