U.S. retail chains shutter stores at alarming rate amid surge in inflation and rampant crime

Inflation, shoplifting, and competition from online retailers are contributing to closures across the United States.

U.S. retail chains shutter stores at alarming rate amid surge in inflation and rampant crime
AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis
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Retail chains across the United States are closing their doors at an unprecedented rate in 2024, with nearly 3,200 brick-and-mortar stores shutting down in the first half of the year alone.

According to a recent analysis by CoreSight Research, this represents a staggering 24% increase compared to the same period last year. Simultaneously, major retailers have announced 4% fewer store openings, signaling a shift in the retail landscape, CBS News reported

The closures can be attributed to a combination of factors, including bankruptcies, inflation, and rampant shoplifting, which have made it increasingly difficult for stores to remain profitable. Organized retail theft rings have become a pressing issue for both large chains and small businesses in certain areas, further exacerbating the problem. Additionally, the growing trend of online shopping, particularly through platforms like Amazon, has led to a decline in foot traffic over the past two decades.

Among the retailers hit hardest by these challenges are RiteAid and Rue21, both of which have filed for bankruptcy. Rue21, a clothing company, cited inflation as a primary reason for its decision to lay off all 4,900 employees, while RiteAid plans to close 165 stores this year. The CoreSight report noted that drug store and pharmacy closures alone have resulted in the loss of approximately eight million square feet of retail space in the U.S.

Dollar Tree, grappling with the dual threats of inflation and shoplifting, announced the closure of more than 600 Family Dollar locations, the highest number among retailers so far this year. Tupperware, the iconic container company, revealed plans to shut down its only U.S. factory in South Carolina, eliminating 148 jobs starting in September, while shifting production to its Mexico plant.

Other notable retailers closing a significant number of stores include 99 Cents Only Stores (371), CVS (315), 7-Eleven (272), Express (105), Walgreens' parent company (77), and Macy's (51). Smaller-scale closures are also underway at Sleep Number, Burlington, Foot Locker, Carter's, Abercrombie & Fitch, Big Lots, Dollar General, H&M, Best Buy, and Ross, among others.

Despite the wave of closures, some chains are still expanding. Dollar General plans to open more than 800 new locations this year, while 7-Eleven aims to add over 270 stores. Five Below is also set to open 227 new stores, demonstrating that growth opportunities still exist in the retail sector.

As detailed by the Daily Wire, the recent years' skyrocketing inflation has led to a 20% increase in prices for everyday necessities since January 2021, leaving Americans struggling to make ends meet. Although inflation has fallen from its peak of 9.1% in June 2022, it remains high at around 3.3%, well above the Federal Reserve's target of 2%.

As retailers continue to navigate these challenging economic conditions, the landscape of brick-and-mortar stores is likely to undergo further transformations in the coming months and years.

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  • By David Menzies

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