It’s not a rosy time for the specialty-apparel sector of retail.
Though there are some upsides to retail commercial real estate, it’s hard to ignore what is happening to this part of the industry’s landscape.
Here are a few of the latest examples:
- – Bebe Stores announced recently it is closing 25 units, decreasing its total square footage by about 16 percent, after posting a same-store-sales drop of 16 percent year over year during its most recent quarter.
– BCBG Max Azaria Group is closing 120 stores, most of them domestically, representing about a third of its locations in the United States. The company is apparently also close to filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
– Another victim is Wet Seal, which is reportedly shutting all locations, and has filed for its second bankruptcy since 2015. Lower mall traffic is apparently blamed for the teen-fashion company’s demise.
A main issue is the rise of fast-fashion retailers, such as H&M and Zara, which can sell similar products at a much cheaper price point, are thriving in many locations, and opening stores. Additionally, there are off-price chains, such as T.J. Maxx, that also sell brands in demand by consumers and are growing. And then there are Target, Walmart and other big-box outfits that have attractive goods at inexpensive prices. Real estate landlords, and others, who have them in these chains in their properties, are likely happy, as opposed to those with traditional specialty apparel tenants.
Despite the major growth of Amazon, and its impact on brick-and-mortar retailers, owners of malls and shopping centers are doing their best to adapt to this changing climate. They are adding restaurants and entertainment venues, as well as other forms of experiential retail. More traditional store owners are also stepping up their games with more activities and events in their locations that can draw customers into physical spots instead of settling for them to just buy goods online.
It’s unlikely that shoppers will ever exclusively purchase apparel products online. Consumers like to touch different fabrics and try the clothes on. Sure, there are things that can be easily bought on the Internet, but that doesn’t mean physical-location apparel stores will ever go away, even though the names of the purveyors might change.