The End of the Shopping Mall Era Continues Apace


Charlotte Russe is going out of business. The cheeky fast-fashion retailer, which filed for bankruptcy in February, couldn’t find a buyer in time to save the chain from closing and will now shutter all remaining stores, according to the Wall Street Journal. Charlotte Russe operated more than 500 stores at the time it filed for bankruptcy, and said then it would shut down about 100 of them.

The Charlotte Russe brand may come back around—the retailer did not include its intellectual property in its asset sale—but it may not be worth very much. Charlotte Russe was famous for supplying tweens and teens with cute going-out tops and flirty accessories, but the retailer never caught up to new fashion trends the way, say, H&M and Forever 21 have. It’s pretty much lost its relevancy.

But Charlotte Russe is not the only casualty. By one market research firm’s estimate, almost as many retail stores have closed this year as did in all of 2018, according to WWD. Abercrombie & Fitch announced on Tuesday that it’ll close 40 stores this year. Last week saw hundreds more store closures, among them Victoria’s Secret (53 stores), Gap (230 stores), and J.C. Penney (24 locations). “It’s very likely we’re going to see record store closures in 2019 and record bankruptcies,” Jan Kniffen, the head of a retail consulting firm, told WWD.

As shopping continues to move online, shopping malls are increasingly becoming a relic of the past—which may explain why brands like Levis and Aerie ramping up in-store “experiences” to keeping pulling in shoppers. Big-box retailers like Target and Walmart are still hanging in there, and some new brands are also thriving–UNTUCKit, the guys who make men’s shirts that don’t need to be tucked in to their pants, plans to open 50 new stores in New York this year. The retail apocalypse may just mean everything becomes a little bit more gimmicky in order to stick around.

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