Has the Great Recession of 2007 caused the demise of main street and the consumer society?
Since at least 2010, various economic factors have resulted in the closing of a large number of North American and British retailers, particularly in the department store industry. For instance, Sears Holdings, which had 3,555 Kmart and Sears stores in 2006, including those now spun off to Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, was down to 866 as of August 13, 2018, with more closures scheduled. Kmart operated 2,171 stores at its peak in 2000, a number that has since dwindled to 360 with further closures planned.
The term “retail apocalypse” began gaining widespread usage in 2017 following multiple announcements from many major retailers of plans to either discontinue or greatly scale back a retail presence, including companies such as H.H. Gregg, Family Christian Stores and The Limited all going out of business entirely.
The Atlantic describes the phenomenon as “The Great Retail Apocalypse of 2017,” reporting nine retail bankruptcies and several apparel companies having their stock hit new lows, including that of Lululemon, Urban Outfitters, American Eagle.Credit Suisse, a major global financial services company, predicted that 25% of U.S. malls remaining in 2017 could close by 2022
A’gaci filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February 2018 and announced plans to close 49 of its 76 stores.
Alfred Angelo bridal stores shuttered all locations on July 13, 2017, with little advance notice. Frustrated customers were handed bankruptcy forms after walking away empty-handed.[not in citation given] The company’s corporate offices were abandoned and stores across the United States emptied and shuttered, but the store’s official website remained active, with no reference to the closure.[not in citation given]
Bebe announced plans to close all stores and focus solely on online sales. At its peak, Bebe operated a total of 312 stores, but by March 2017, this was down to 172.
Best Buy issued forecasts of a 2.2% compound annual growth rate through 2021; analysts noted that competition from Amazon.com likely played into the low growth expectations. Its shares dropped 10% in value (roughly $1.7 billion in market value) on the news. On March 1, 2018, Best Buy announced that it would close all 250 Best Buy Mobile stores in the United States by the end of May 2018, but the Canadian locations remains open.
The Bon-Ton, a regional department store operator, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on February 5, 2018. The company said it would close 42 stores. On April 17, 2018 they announced plans to go out of business after being purchased by two liquidators.
Brookstone filed for bankruptcy on April 3, 2014. In early 2018, some news reports said Brookstone has quietly closed locations including SouthPark Mall, Eastview Mall, Destiny USA, among others. On August 2, 2018, Brookstone announced they would be shuttering all their mall based locations to focus on their Website and Airport Locations, days after the company was considering filing for bankruptcy. 
Charming Charlie filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on December 11, 2017, and plans to close 97 of its stores.
On March 29, 2015, Best Buy abruptly announced the closure of the Future Shop chain in Canada, with 66 locations closing permanently and 65 locations reopening as Best Buy on April 4, 2015.
GameStop announced plans to close at least 150 stores following reports of weak earnings and a grim prediction of sales for 2017. GameStop has been affected by a shift in consumer purchasing habits of games as makers have made it easier to purchase titles online for download, often through consoles, requiring no physical disc.
Gander Mountain, an outdoor recreation retailer, announced in March 2017 that it was filing for bankruptcy and would likely close stores. In May 2017, the retailer announced that it was closing all 126 of its locations. However, CEO Marcus Lemonis then indicated that certain flagship stores, particularly in Michigan, might remain open depending on deals with store landlords and rental rates. It was later clarified that likely around 70 stores would remain open, even those currently running liquidation sales, possibly as Camping World, which acquired the company.
GUESS? closed 60 stores in 2017 and is expected to close more than 100 stores in 2018, leaving roughly half from its high of 400 stores.
Guitar Center laid off 180 of its 7,000 employees in 2015; by 2018, the retailer was said to be on the verge of bankruptcy due to unsustainable debt loads and the decreasing popularity of musical instruments.
Gymboree announced on June 12, 2017, that it had filed for bankruptcy protection and would close 375-450 of its 1,281 stores. Gymboree had recently refused to pay some bills and had over $1 billion in debt. Although the store has an online presence, only 21% of its sales came from online ordering at the time of its bankruptcy announcement, with “dated and unsupported” web systems.
hhgregg, which filed for bankruptcy in March 2017, announced that it would close all 226 of its remaining locations in April 2017.
On January 26, 2017, HMV Canada announced that it would file for receivership and close all of their stores by April 14, 2017.
In September 2018, it was announced that the Henri Bendel brand would be shutting down by early 2019.
J. C. Penney announced in February 2017 that it would close 138 stores in 2017. Liquidation sales began on May 22, and stores closed by July 31. Another 8 stores and a distribution center will close in 2018.
J. Crew closed 61 stores in 2017 and sporadically closed additional individual stores in the first quarter of 2018.
Lord & Taylor announced on June 5, 2018, to close 10 stores through 2019 representing 1 in 5 of their store count. This comes after parent company Hudson Bay Company announced plans to shutter the 5th Avenue store after they sold the property to WeWork.
Macy’s announced plans in March 2017 to close at least 68 stores and eliminate more than 10,000 jobs. Another 13 stores will close in 2018 leaving 19 store yet to be named.
Marsh Supermarkets announced on May 11, 2017, that they were filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and that if they did not find a seller in 60 days, they would close their remaining 44 locations. Marsh eventually found buyers for 26 of its 44 stores. The remaining 18 were to be liquidated and closed and some of the other 26 would also be liquidated, as only the buildings were purchased, but not the stores’ stocks of inventory.
BCBG Max Azria announced the closure of its stores in 2017 and going to department stores and online only. BCBG Max Azria Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on February 28, 2017, and was taken over by Marquee Brands and Global Brands Group.
MC Sports closed all stores in 2017 as a result of bankruptcy.
Michael Kors announced in 2017 that it would close 100 to 125 of its standalone stores over the next two years.
Neiman Marcus announced plans in September 2017 to close 25% of its Last Call outlet stores.
Nike, Inc. announced plans to shift towards e-commerce and decrease its retail partners from 14,000 to 40.
Nine West filed for bankruptcy on April 6, 2018. They stopped selling shoes and closed their retail stores, shifting to online only.
Rockport filed for bankruptcy in May 2018; the company that bought the company out of bankruptcy closed all 60 of its brick-and-mortar stores in July of that year.
rue21, in April 2017, announced plans to close around 400 stores. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on May 16, 2017.
Sam’s Club, a subsidiary of Walmart, closed 63 stores, and 12 of the 63 locations are expected to be converted into fulfillment centers. Sam’s Club locations in the United States decreased to 597.
Sears Holdings, the parent company of Sears and Kmart, announced plans to close approximately 150 Sears and Kmart stores. The retailer, as part of required reporting, stated to the Securities and Exchange Commission that it had substantial doubt that any of its stores could continue to survive. Such a report is typically considered damaging to a company, as it affects their supply line. On April 20, 2017, Business Insider reported that the company was “quietly closing” more stores than it had initially announced and compiled a list of ten additional Sears and Kmart locations that were closing. On April 22, Sears also announced plans to close 50 of its auto centers and 92 pharmacies within Kmart locations. On June 6, 2017, they announced that an additional 72 Sears stores would be closed. On June 23, they announced the closure of a further 18 Sears stores and 2 Kmarts. In a blog post, Sears Holdings C.E.O. Eddie Lampert stated “more closings are coming.” The Canadian subsidiary, Sears Canada, successfully petitioned the courts on October 13, 2017, to allow it to close down the entire organization, including 130 stores, and liquidate all its assets by January 21, 2018, terminating around 12,000 positions. As such, all outlets were closed on January 14, 2018. Also in January 2018, Sears Holdings announced it would close 103 more stores by the end of April, 64 from the Kmart division, and 39 Sears stores.
Sports Authority filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on March 2, 2016. The company’s stores were sold to a group of liquidators and its CEO announced that all stores would close by the end of August 2016.
Styles for Less filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on November 7, 2017.
Teavana announced plans to close all 379 stores in 2018, with parent company Starbucks citing lower mall traffic, and on August 29, 2017, Simon Property Group sued Starbucks over the Teavana closures.
Toys “R” Us filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September 2017 with over $5 billion in debt. It announced that its Canadian subsidiary would seek bankruptcy protection in parallel proceedings. On January 24, 2018, the retailer announced plans to close a total of 180 of its Toys “R” Us and subsidiary Babies “R” Us locations in the United States, approximately 20% of its U.S. store base, pending court approval. At least half of the closures will come from Babies “R” Us locations. In addition to closures, the retailer plans to quickly revamp a dozen locations to better co-brand the baby and toy experience with more revamps coming, cut the number of items offered in existing stores, revamp the loyalty program and pricing model to be more competitive, and promote the baby registry business to generate more sales of higher-priced items. In February 2018, Toys R Us announced that it will close 200 more stores. On March 8, 2018; Bloomberg News reported that Toys “R” Us is considering closing the U.S. operations entirely. On March 14, 2018, the retailer announced it was shutting down all 100 of its locations in the United Kingdom, resulting in the loss of 3,000 positions. Later the same day, it was announced that all U.S. locations would be sold or closed, affecting as many as 33,000 jobs.Billionaire Isaac Larian of toy manufacturer MGA Entertainment has together with other investors pledged $200 million as of March 22, 2018 to salvage up to 400 of the stores. Regardless, liquidation sales at all Toys”R”Us and Babies”R”Us began on March 23, 2018, and all of the remaining stores closed permanently on June 29, 2018, However, the Canada and Puerto Rico stores will remain open.
True Religion announced on July 12, 2017, the closure of 27 stores as a result of Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Urban Outfitters, along with Anthropologie and Free People, despite opening 19 stores for fiscal 2018, plans to close 7 stores that same year, as “shoppers don’t like their clothing”, according to MarketWatch.
Vitamin World, a retailer of vitamins and health supplements, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on September 12, 2017. The company plans to close 51 stores out of the 334 total; already 45 stores have been closed since 2016.
Wet Seal filed for its second bankruptcy in January 2017 and announced plans to close all its stores, which numbered 171 at the time.
Winn-Dixie‘s parent company, Southeastern Grocers, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on March 15, 2018. They are current set to close down 94 out of 528 of their stores, many of which will have their related leases rejected and lease rejection claims rendered unimpaired.
The retailers below are ones that are defying the retail apocalypse by opening stores, remodeling stores, and/or being able to surivive changing trends. Regardless if they are closing stores, they are allowed here if they are expanding their store count.
As of 2018, Build-A-Bear Workshophad expanded its physical footprint by 12% and had been profitable for four straight years
Aldi is planning to open 180 new stores by the end of 2018 and grow to 2,500 stores by 2022.
At Home opened its 150th store in 2018 and plans to open even more stores.
Build-A-Bear Workshop remains as the mall-based toy retailer surviving the retail apocalypse in 2018, after Toys ‘R’ Us announced plans to close all 735 of its U.S. stores in March 2018. 
Costco Wholesale opened 8 new stores in the first half of fiscal year 2018 and will open 18 to 20 new stores during the second half of 2018.
Dick’s Sporting Goods will open 20 stores in 2018, though this is a slowdown compared to before. Ed Stack mentioned that they would open more locations once market rents drop.
Dollar General will open 1,846 new stores in 2018, remodel 1,568 stores, and relocate 219 stores.
Dollar Tree, also operating Family Dollar, opened 137 stores in fiscal year 2017. The company opened 603 new stores overall in the year of 2017.