5. Dunkin’ Brands Group
> Closures: 800
> Brand affected: Dunkin’
Dunkin’ Brands Group, parent company of coffee and donut retailer Dunkin’, closed about 800 locations in 2020. Low-volume locations, as well as 450 locations in Speedway convenience stores, were the targets of the closures. The closures represent about 8% of the company’s footprint but only about 2% of its revenue. Urban Dunkin’ locations were hit especially hard by the pandemic as the shift to working from home has reduced demand for coffee or breakfast on-the-go from daily commuters.
4. Pier 1 Imports
> Closures: 942
> Brand affected: Pier 1 Imports
In early 2020, Texas-based home goods retailer Pier 1 Imports filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Before filing, the company announced plans to shutter 450 of its 942 stores. The closures included all of the company’s locations in Canada. The announcement was the continuation of a longer term trend. Less than one year earlier, in April 2019, Pier 1 reported the imminent closure of as many as 145 of its stores.
The company’s search for a buyer during the COVID-19 pandemic, however, proved futile, and in a May 2021 press release, the company announced the closure of all locations.
3. GameStop Corp.
> Closures: 1,462
> Brand affected: GameStop
GameStop, a troubled video game retailer, has made headlines in recent months due to its popularity among individual stock traders. The company’s share price has fluctuated from about $17 a share to over $480 since January 2021 as a result of a short squeeze. At the same time, the company has been restructuring, working to transform itself from a brick-and-mortar to an e-commerce retailer.
As a part of that effort, the company had closed 462 locations in 2020, as of mid-December, and announced plans to shutter another 1,000 locations by March 2021. These closures are on top of another 321 reported in 2019.
2. Ascena Retail Group
> Closures: 1,600
> Brands affected: Justice, Ann Taylor, LOFT, Lane Bryant, Lou & Grey, and Catherines
New Jersey-based Ascena Retail Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late July 2020. The move came after the company had shuttered 600 locations of a clothing retailer Justice, which markets to pre-teen girls. Other company-owned brands that will be affected include Ann Taylor, LOFT, Lane Bryant, and Lou & Grey. The estimated total of 1,600 location closures include all Catherines locations, a plus-size women’s clothing store. The closures are part of a major corporate shift to online retail.
Like many other companies that have declared bankruptcy in the past year, or are downsizing their brick-and-mortar footprint, Ascena owned retailers operated largely out of shopping malls. Malls were already suffering from declining foot traffic even before the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the problem.
> Closures: 2,200 – 2,400
> Brand affected: Subway
For sandwich chain Subway, the pandemic worsened an already bad situation. Hundreds of locations have been shuttered annually in recent years in the face of growing competition and marketing difficulties. With COVID-19, Subway locations, which are often in malls and urban areas, reported steep sales declines. According to some estimates, between 2,200 and 2,400 Subway locations closed in 2020. It is important to note that while the company does not offer data on location closures, it maintains that these estimates are high.
Unlike other companies on this list, all Subway locations are franchised and none are operated by the parent company. Mass closures in the past year indicate steep losses for franchisees.
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