The American Retail Meltdown Is Good News for the Europeans, Maybe 


American retail is struggling, as shoppers shift to online and department stores and the malls they anchor lose their luster. It’s happy days for European companies looking to expand, though.

That’s according to the Wall Street Journal. “Credit Suisse estimates retailers will close more than 8,600 locations around the US this year, which would surpass the number of closings during the 2008 financial crisis,” according to a story in the paper today, which notes that 19 retailers, Payless and RadioShack among them, have filed for bankruptcy so far this year. (It might feel like we have discovered some horrible 13th month beyond December; however it is in fact only May.)

But that’s actually somewhat good news if you are, say, H&M. Said head of investor relations Nils Vinge on a recent earnings call: “A lot of peers are closing down and leaving their stores, which of course opens up opportunities.” In 2015, for instance, Primark opened its first American location in the carcass of the Filene’s in Boston’s Downton Crossing, home to the original Filene’s Basement (RIP). The WSJ says:

“Some international retailers see this as a great opportunity to get into markets they couldn’t afford or [to] accelerate expansion,” said Brandon Famous, a senior managing director focused on retail in the Americas for real estate services company CBRE Group Inc. But, he added, many smaller international brands are unlikely to be helped by rising store closures since they tend to look for prime locations such as top-tier malls, where business remains strong.

At least somebody’s happy.

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