The list of store closings is already very long and may be much longer by the end of the year. The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has left many companies in horrible shape. Some have had to declare bankruptcy while others have closed some of their units. Many of the employees have not been recalled to work as the pandemic has raged on, and there has been a paucity of customers since they are scared they might contract the virus.
Debt is now the common enemy. Every retailer who had high debt before all of this started is closing some stores and cutting back on new projects. At a time like this, ability to raise cash and to maintain a semblance of free cash flow is quite difficult even as it is invaluable and enviable for most retailers. Many have had to rely on more borrowing to sustain their business. It has left their future uncertain.
We are witnessing a retail apocalypse. It began in 2010 when brick and mortar stores started to close and has only gotten worse over time. I am listing below 9,274 store units that will close this year. The figure is most certainly going to rise by the end of the year and surpass 2019 levels when 9,302 stores closed their doors. In 2018, 5,700 stores closed, and in 2017 8,000 stores were shuttered.