10. Yum! Brands
> Closures: 300
> Brand affected: Pizza Hut
Yum! Brands, the parent company of fast food chains Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut, reached a deal in August 2020 to close up to 300 underperforming Pizza Hut locations. The announcement came after NPC International, the largest Pizza Hut franchisee, declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy as it was saddled with a $1 billion debt burden. In addition to the closures, NPC will sell its remaining 927 Pizza Hut restaurants.
Most of the closures will likely affect dine-in locations, a market the company had been moving away from even before the pandemic accelerated demand for delivery and takeout services.
9. L Brands
> Closures: 338
> Brands affected: Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works, Pink
Columbus, Ohio-based fashion retailer L Brands shuttered 235 Victoria’s Secret locations in the United States in 2020, as well as 50 Bath & Body Works locations and three Pink stores. The announcement of the closures came after year-over-year quarterly sales at the company declined by 37% in the early months of the pandemic.
The damage did not stop there. In late February 2021, the company announced the forthcoming closures of an additional 30 to 50 Victoria’s Secret locations. L Brands is moving forward with plans to spin off the struggling brand into its own company within the next six months.
8. Gap Inc.
> Closures: 350
> Brands affected: Gap and Banana Republic
Gap Inc., the parent company of clothing brands Old Navy, Banana Republic, and Gap, is one of many fashion retailers reducing its brick-and-mortar footprint to adapt to changing market conditions. In October 2020, the company announced plans to shutter 350 of its stores across North America by the end of fiscal 2023. Over 200 U.S. locations have already been closed. Company sales have been negatively impacted by declining mall foot traffic and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, the Old Navy and Athleta brands have been a bright spot. These brands have consistently reported higher profit margins, and as Gap and Banana Republic locations close, the company plans continued expansion of Old Navy’s brick-and-mortar footprint.
> Closures: 400
> Brand affected: Starbucks
Coffee retailer Starbucks is in the process of closing 400 U.S. locations by the end of its 2021 fiscal year. The announcement was initially made in June 2020, and additional closures were announced in a November 2020 earnings call.
The reduced footprint will be most pronounced in urban areas, where the COVID-19 pandemic has found many former commuters working from home and no longer stopping for a coffee on their way to the office.
6. AT&T Wireless
> Closures: 570
> Brand affected: AT&T Mobility
AT&T shuttered 320 brick-and-mortar retail locations in the final two months of 2020. These closures were on top of another 250 permanent location closings the company carried out earlier in the year.
According to a company statement, the closures represent an adaptation to the growing trend of consumers making online purchases — a trend that although it predates the COVID-19 pandemic, it was no doubt accelerated by it.
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