WASHINGTON – Christmas is over. Now get out.
That was the word this week as two of the nation’s giant retailers announced to employees and shoppers the closings of dozens of stores.
Macy’s is closing 14 of its 790 stores across the country.
JCPenney is closing 39 of its stores and laying off 2,250 workers.
And that’s just the beginning of the retail earthquake hitting America, say analysts.
“I believe that we are on the verge of a number of business failures of specialty retailers as well as some national general retailers which in turn will have a domino effect on those dealing with the retail industry,” says bankruptcy expert Chuck Tatelbaum. “Because of the changes in buying habits of U.S. consumers, as a result of the continuing hesitancy to spend, the 2014 holiday season was not sufficiently successful for many retailers that have either over expanded, fell out of favor or had insufficient capital and merchandise.”
The last few years have not been kind to major store chains. Many once revered brands have been closing stores. Apparently some were only staying open through the Christmas season, which will prove to be their last.
“Our business is rapidly evolving in response to changes in the way customers are shopping across stores, desktops, tablets and smartphones,” explained Terry Lundren, Macy’s chief executive officer. “We must continue to invest in our business to focus on where the customer is headed – to prepare for what’s next.”
Sears has been around for 122 years, but it, too, is closing 235 under-performing stores. Sears and Kmart lost $296 million in 2014.
Sears Holdings, which has more than 1,830 Sears and Kmart stores, said in its earnings announcement that the company “expects to migrate the shopping activity of highly engaged members who previously shopped closed stores to alternative channels.”
During 2014, Sears Holdings closed about 200 of the Sears and Kmart stores.
Even chic newer retailers are closing their doors. C. Wonder, the preppy retailer, is going out of business, closing all 11 of its U.S. stores in the next few weeks.
Wet Seal is closing 338 retail stores while dealing with bankruptcy proceedings. Nearly 3,700 full- and part-time workers will be unemployed.
“This was a very difficult decision to make, but after reviewing many other options since I returned to the company in September, our financial condition leaves us no other alternative than to close these stores,” Wet Seal chief executive Ed Thomas said in a statement.
But Wet Seal employees didn’t take the news well. Employees at several stores posted large signs in the store windows. One said: “Our Mission Statement: We lie to our employees to hide the fact that yes, we’re closing and gave no notice.”
For many workers, like those at Wet Seal, there is no severance pay and no compensation for accrued vacation time.
Aeropostale, suffering from declining sales, closed 75 stores during the holiday season, which runs from November through January. And in 2015, they expect to close an additional 50 to 75 stores.
RadioShack, which is negotiating with lenders to gain approval to shutter 1,100 stores, said last month that it closed 175 locations in 2014.
Online shopping is most often cited as the major problem for brick-and-mortar retail stores. Online sales now account for about 13 percent of all retail sales.
The Associated Press reported the JCPenney stores closing are in:
GEORGIA: Gwinnett Place Mall in Duluth, LaGrange Mall in LaGrange, Walnut Square Mall in Dalton
IOWA: Crossroads Shopping Center in Waterloo, Southbridge Mall in Mason City, Westland Mall in West Burlington
ILLINOIS: Northland Plaza in DeKalb, Quincy Mall in Quincy
INDIANA: Marquette Mall in Michigan City
MASSACHUSETTS: Hanover Mall in Hanover, Silver City Galleria in Taunton
MICHIGAN: Adrian South Mall in Adrian
NEW JERSEY: Cumberland Mall in Vineland
NEW YORK: Hudson Valley Mall in Kingston
NORTH CAROLINA: Parkwood Mall in Wilson, Randolph Mall in Asheboro, Signal Hill Mall in Statesville, Southgate Mall in Elizabeth City
OHIO: Eastland Mall in Columbus, North Towne Plaza in Greenville, Upper Valley Mall in Springfield
OREGON: Pony Village Mall in North Bend
PENNSYLVANIA: Chambersburg Mall in Chambersburg, Granite Run Mall in Media, Nittany Mall in State College, Susquehanna Valley Mall in Hummels Wharf, York Galleria in York
RHODE ISLAND: Providence Place Mall in Providence
SOUTH CAROLINA: Aiken Mall in Aiken, Inlet Square Mall in Murrells Inlet
SOUTH DAKOTA: Lakewood Mall in Aberdeen
TEXAS: Market Square Mall in Brenham
VIRGINIA: Manassas Mall in Manassas, the Marquis in Williamsburg
VERMONT: Diamond Run Mall in Rutland, St. Albans Shopping Center in St. Albans
WISCONSIN: Aviation Plaza in Oshkosh, Regency Mall in Racine, Shawano Plaza in Shawano