The Gap, Nanuet

Dying Chain Stores May Bruise The Shops At Nanuet

Real Estate Retail

Eight Out Of 30 Dying Chains Have A Retail Presence At Mall

By Tina Traster

Attention shoppers: The closures of Macy’s and Sears, the bookends at The Shops of Nanuet, are not where the story ends. Many major retailers with a high-profile presence at shopping hubs are shuttering their stores as corporations adjust to the SmartPhone and Internet economy, stock market convulsions, and fear of inflation and recession.

For Rockland, an economy that is heavily reliant on its Route 59 retail corridor, these developments are worrying.

This has been a brutal year for store chains. Sears, Toys R Us, and others have closed more than 5,000 stores, while smaller regional retailers have been going dark too. While At Home has committed to 100,000 square feet of ground-floor space at Macy’s, the rest of the building will need to be rented.

The website MoneyWise, has compiled a list of 30 major chains that are currently dying off the fastest, and the list bodes ill for The Shops of Nanuet, Rockland County’s most upscale retail hub. Eight of the 30 retailers on the list have, or had stores at the Shops of Nanuet: Victoria Secret, J. Crew, Michael Kors, Gap/Banana Republic, GNC, Ann Taylor, and Teavana.

Teavana’s store is already shuttered.

Art Peck, CEO of Gap Inc. plans to shut down hundreds of underperforming stores “with urgency,” including some of the Gap’s flagship locations. Gap Inc.’s third-quarter results were in line with analyst expectations in the third quarter, but Gap store sales underwhelmed, as they have regularly for some time. (Other brands, including Athleta, owned by the company, made up the deficit.) Peck said the drag of real estate obligations is one of the biggest encumbrances on the Gap brand right now. The chain currently has 775 Gap stores. Gap has not announced specific locations that are being targeted for closure. Those are expected to be revealed when the company provides the forecast for its next fiscal year.

The closures will follow the shutdown of 200 Gap and Banana Republic stores in 2017.

The Shops at Nanuet has four Gap stores and one Banana Republic – that’s a lot of real estate for a corporation that is talking about responding to sagging sales with “urgency.”

Victoria Secret closed 20 stores last year due to poor sales. J. Crew shuttered 50, proving the preppy look is so yesterday. High-end fashion accessories giant Michael Kors will shut down 100 to 125 stores in the next two years after major drops in sales in 2017. Kors sales in both its branded stores and department stores fell by double digits. GNC, the vitamin retailer, is looking sickly. (Vitamin World too is closing 129 stores). Gap executives hope closing 200 stores in the U.S. and Canada will be just the spoonful of tonic the company needs to improve its financial health. The company behind Ann Taylor, Loft, Dressbarn and other clothing chains for women plans to close as many as 547 more stores by 2019. That’s in addition to 120 the Ascena Retail Group shut down in 2017. Falling sales and high commercial rents have saddled the retailer.

Starbuck’s tea brand, Teavana, is toast. Starbucks plans to shutter all of its 379 mall-based locations.

The Shops at Nanuet is not the only potential victim of the loss of chains, though one should note that the mall currently has four empty storefronts. For many years, the economy has hummed along vigorously, making holes in shopping centers and malls less noticeable. Often, the going-out-of-business sales, empty stores and store layoffs, creep up slowly. At this point, we don’t know if the Shops at Nanuet will fall victim to the dying off of the sick chains, but it seems inevitable that Rockland’s retail corridor will feel the pain of the “retail correction.”

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