1. Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE: ANF)
Abercrombie & Fitch has taken a nose dive in recent years, a decline punctuated by the ouster of former CEO Mike Jeffries. The former CEO is infamous for wanting to sell only to “cool” people, among other public relations disasters. According to Jeffries, Abercrombie & Fitch clothing embody the “essence of privilege and casual luxury.” Yet, with net sales dropping 14% in the fourth quarter, A&F’s target audience seems less interested in the clothing than ever. The company plans to open several stores overseas as well as 11 new outlet stores in the United States in fiscal 2015. In addition, however, the company plans to close roughly 60 U.S. stores over the same period. Most of these stores will be closed as their leases expire.
2. Aeropostale (NYSE: ARO)
Ahead of the 2014 holiday shopping season, traditionally the time of the year retailers make most of their profits, Aeropostale announced plans to close 75 stores in its fiscal fourth quarter — November through January — on top of the 23 it closed in its third quarter. The announcement came as Aeropostale reported its third quarter losses doubled to $52 million from the same quarter one year earlier. The fourth quarter closings brought to 120 the number of stores Aeropostale closed in its 2014 fiscal year, far higher than the company’s estimate of 40-50 closings. Aeropostale stated it would close another 126 mall outlets in fiscal 2015. The teen retailer has seen stiff competition from Zara, Forever 21, H&M, and other stores.
3. Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS)
Barnes & Noble has moved its business away from a store-based model to a multi-channel model, which focuses instead on retail stores, Internet, and digital commerce. Like many other retailers, Barnes & Noble leases rather than own many of its stores. One of the reasons Borders went bankrupt several years ago — a similar story of stiff e-commerce competition — was its inability to sell its leased stores. So far, Barnes & Noble has at least managed to close many of its stores upon the termination of the lease period. In doing so, the bookseller has managed to avoid taking major losses from store closures. Still, Barnes & Noble has been closing stores for years. The retailer operated 1,361 brick-and-mortar bookstores in 50 states as of May last year. E-commerce sales as a percent of all retail sales has increased steadily in recent years alongside evolving consumer habits. Barnes & Noble had sales of $6.38 billion in its fiscal 2014, down substantially from the previous year. At the same time, online retailers such as Amazon.com have reported explosive growth.