U.S. store closures this year are already exceeding the total for 2018, says a key global research and advisory firm.
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Coresight Research, which tracks store openings and closings, said Friday retailers have announced 5,994 store closures and 2,641 store openings as of early April. That compares to 5,864 closures and 3,239 openings for the full year 2018.
The number of closures indicates that traditional retailers are struggling to respond to shoppers' increasing shift online even as they're working hard to reinvent their businesses.
In February, Payless ShoeSource announced it was closing all of its 2,100 U.S. stores, making it one of the biggest store liquidations. Also accounting for a big chunk of store closures this year is children's retailer Gymboree, which is closing its remaining 750 stores, and fast-fashion retailer Charlotte Russe, which shuttered its remaining 400 stores this spring.
Plenty of chains are shrinking their footprint. Gap Inc. said last month it would close about 200 Gap and Banana Republic stores in the next three years. Discount chain Fred's said earlier this week that it would be closing 159 stores.
Deborah Weinswig, founder and CEO of Coresight Research, says the low 2018 total was actually an anomaly and the industry would return to a faster rate of closures in 2019.