By Brianna Ahearn, contributing writer
The year 2014 marked a series of security breaches, with retailers in a variety of categories affected, and as we enter into the second week of March, it seems 2015 is the year of store closings. Already many stores across the United States will be closing, including retailers such as RadioShack and Cache. Multiple companies have launched their plans to close stores, either out of filing bankruptcy or an effort to restructure business and cut costs. Even general merchandise companies such as Target are part of this new move. As Forbes notes, these closures are changing the face of the retail landscape. It sets the stage for not only new online retailers to try to capture some of the business with their own physical locations, but also emphasizes the importance of pursuing omni-channel retailing in an effort to improve business.
Some of the notable retailers closing their stores in 2015 include Build-a-Bear, Staples, Deb Shops, Fredericks of Hollywood, Good Cents, Kate Spade Saturday, Walgreens, Office Depot, and Jones New York. This month Great American Group, announced they would be closing all stores in the chain throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands as part of its filing for bankruptcy this year. Grocery retailer Giant Eagle has decided to close all eight of its Good Cents stores completely, while teen clothing retailer Wet Seal is closing a majority of its stores. Even Macy's will close up to dozen stores this year as part of its corporate restructuring efforts.
While some stores are closing due to bankruptcy, many of the retailers closing their underperforming stores are using the savings to invest in new technology and digital initiatives. Target recently announced their plans for 2015, and in the announcement, they revealed that the customers who shop at both Target stores and online at the retailer's website contribute more than three times the sales than customers who shop only at Target's physical locations. In response to this, Target plans to ramp up its digital channel sales. Macy's will close 14 of its 790 stores and use the resulting savings to improve its omni-channel sales.
The change in the retail landscape provides a chance for other retailers to move in, especially in some parts of the country where retail vacancy is at an all-time low, such as Northeast Ohio, which saw its retail vacancy reach its lowest point since 2007. As some stores close their doors forever, other retailers are taking the opportunity to move in, either to expand business or establish the first brick and mortar locations. Amazon was reportedly looking at the shuttered RadioShack stores, however, GameStop Corporation took over many of those stores' leases to expand their Spring Mobile line of wireless stores. Catalog retailer L.L. Bean just announced they planned to open at least four new stores this year, with a projected 100 by 2020, after experiencing five years of solid sales growth. Barnes and Noble was set to close 20 stores in 2015, but has now reduced that number to 13 after their profit edged up slightly.