These Chains Have Announced a Ton of Store Closings in 2019
The bankruptcies and going-out-of-business sales keep coming.
Stores closing: 6
Nordstom — the upscale retailer with a reputation for superstar customer service — has been battling for business as shoppers embrace cheap fashion chains and e-commerce sites.
The company has been pouring money into its Nordstrom Rack discount stores and making room for online order pickup areas in its department stores. But those efforts haven't been enough.
With its profits falling, Nordstrom closed three stores early in the year, and it recently shuttered three more. The latest closings included a Nordstrom that had been in business in a suburban Seattle mall for nearly 60 years.
But the company continues to open new stores, including a New York City flagship that will span seven floors.
Stores closing: The first of up to 230
At one time, the Gap was the coolest store at the mall, the place where you'd stock up on T-shirts, khakis, sweats and jeans that just looked so right.
But that was a long time ago. Nowadays, younger shoppers wouldn't think of falling into the Gap but instead find trendier and more affordable clothing at Target or "fast-fashion" chains such as H&M.
So, Gap plans to close around 230 stores over two years. But don't feel too badly for parent company Gap Inc., because its Old Navy chain is doing so well that it's being spun off as a separate business.
The plan is to add a jaw-dropping 800 new Old Navy stores in North America, by opening 75 each year for the next several years.
Stores closing: 8
Kohl's has been in better shape than those department stores you find at the big enclosed malls. Experts say shoppers think Kohl's stores in strip shopping centers are less of hassle than going to the mall.
Even so, the 2018 holiday shopping at Kohl's wasn't quite as good as expected, leading the company to shut down four money-losing stores early this year. The company later announced that it was shutting down all four of its Off/Aisle discount stores.
But the chain said the closings would be balanced out by the opening of four new stores, though they'll be smaller than the typical Kohl's.
To get more shoppers in the door, Kohl's recently started accepting Amazon returns at all of its department stores.
41. Bed Bath & Beyond
Stores closing: 60
Bed Bath & Beyond shoppers will have fewer and fewer places to use the company's ubiquitous coupons to buy bedding, kitchen gadgets and the latest as-seen-on-TV products that no household should be without.
In April, the home furnishings retailer said it would shut down 40 of its stores in 2019. But months later, the struggling chain boosted the number by 20.
BB&B also intended to open around 15 new stores this year.
And, to help drum up some holiday season buzz, the company is changing things up by doing a "rapid refresh" at 160 existing stores. That's just a fraction of the roughly 1,000 Bed Bath & Beyonds in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Canada.
Stores closing: 11
The British fast-fashion chain Topshop got a star-studded welcome when it invaded America in 2009, with celebrities including rapper Jay-Z and supermodel Kate Moss celebrating the opening of the first U.S. store in New York.
Now, after just 10 years, Topshop has already made an exit. It wound down all 11 of its Topshop and Topman stores in the U.S., in cities that also include Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, Miami and San Diego.
The chain's parent company filed for bankruptcy, blaming "challenging retail headwinds, changing consumer habits and ever-increasing online competition."
But it's not a complete goodbye for the brand's fans in the U.S., because they can still buy the company's threads online and at Nordstrom stores.
39. Barneys New York
Stores closing: 21
Barneys — a luxury department store company known for its over-the-top catalogs and elaborate holiday window displays — filed for bankruptcy, and most of its stores are going out of business.
In a statement, the chain said it took a pounding from high rents and "the challenging retail environment." Barneys operated in major cities from coast to coast and even had a few Barneys Warehouse outlet stores.
Barneys' iconic Madison Avenue location will remain open in New York, the city where the company got its start in 1923.
Barney Pressman began by opening a discount clothing store using the slogan, "No Bunk, No Junk, No Imitations."
Stores closing: 18
None other than retail giant Walmart is scaling back in 2019. As the company shuts down locations here and there, hundreds of laid-off employees are hanging up their vests.
Walmart has avoided making any formal announcements about closings. To arrive at the total, you have to add numbers from industry reports and individual local media accounts.
The 18 include: 10 of Walmart's Neighborhood Market grocery stores; full-size discount stores in Louisiana, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia; and smaller "Walmart on Campus" locations at Arizona State University and Virginia Commonwealth University.
Most recently, Walmart announced the closing of its only store in Minnesota's capital, St. Paul. "Retail is changing rapidly," a Walmart spokeswoman said, when asked about the decision by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Stores closing: 54
Bad luck and bad business decisions doomed this women's closing chain that was founded in San Antonio in 1971.
A'gaci first filed for bankruptcy in early 2018 and closed 20 of its stores. But the company didn't exactly bounce back and had to return to bankruptcy court again in August 2019 — this time to shut down all of its remaining locations.
The retailer had taken a beating from 2017's parade of devastating hurricanes. It lost business due to Hurricane Harvey in Texas, Hurricane Irma in Florida and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
It had also opened too many stores at a time when many shoppers were abandoning malls. A new owner is hoping the A'gaci brand can survive as an online-only business.
36. J. Crew
Stores closing: 20
Many malls are dying off, which is a serious problem for chains that rely on them — like fading J. Crew.
After quietly ending the run of a handful of U.S. locations early in the year, executives told analysts during a late May conference call that the plan for 2019 is to shut down a total of 20 J. Crews, including outlet stores.
Recent closings have included "Liquor Store," a man cave-ish men's store that the company operated for more than 10 years in New York's lower Manhattan.
About the only thing going right for J. Crew is its Madewell chain of denim and accessories stores for women. That brand is so hot that J. Crew is spinning it off through an initial public offering.
35. Southeastern Grocers
Stores closing: 22
You may not know the Southeastern Grocers name, though if you live in the Southern U.S. you've seen the company's supermarkets.
Winn-Dixie, Bi-Lo and Harveys are institutions across the region, but grocery shoppers have been gravitating away to big-box stores such as Walmart and Costco — and to Amazon.
Southeastern Grocers has shut down more than two-dozen stores, less than a year after the company went through a bankruptcy and closed nearly 100 of its locations.
Lately, there's been more bad news: In August, the grocery store chain agreed to pay $4.5 million to settle allegations that leaks of coolant from its store refrigerators were so serious they violated the Clean Air Act.
34. J.C. Penney
Stores closing: 27
J.C. Penney has many things in common with Sears: Both were founded around the beginning of the 20th century, both are fixtures in U.S. shopping malls, both used to have major catalog businesses.
And now Penney is fighting for its life, just like Sears.
Right after a bad holiday sales season, Penney's stock dropped below $1 for the first time ever. More recently, the company said it would close 18 department stores in 2019 and nine of its separate furniture stores.
In its battle for shoppers, JCP is introducing stores within its stores: shops specializing in shirts, jackets, vests and other gear for camping and other outdoorsy activities.
33. Christopher & Banks
Stores closing: The first of up to 40
A lot of things haven't been going right for the women's clothing retailer Christopher & Banks, which has decided to close between 30 and 40 of its more than 450 stores over the next two and a half years.
Executives say the company — which was founded by a guy named Gil (Braun) as Braun's Fashions in the 1950s — wound up with more spring and summer clothing than it could sell in 2018. Then, shipping delays made it tough to put new merchandise on the racks.
In 2019, C&B has continued to lose money as its sales keep declining.
But the CEO has been upbeat, telling analysts that the chain is making progress.
32. Abercrombie & Fitch
Stores closing: Up to 40
With America's malls in trouble, Abercrombie — known for its ripped jeans and shredded models — saw its business go from smokin' hot to ice cold in recent years.
The fashion retailer for younger shoppers is mounting a comeback through downsizing, and in more ways than one.
Executives announced that as many as 40 Abercrombie stores would go out of business this year, including some large-scale flagship stores. Other existing locations will shrink in size, and 40 smallish new stores are planned.
But the trade fight is hurting the retailer's turnaround efforts. Abercrombie gets some of its clothing from China, so it says tariffs are likely to have a "direct adverse impact" on profits.
Stores closing: Up to 40
Francesca's is a women's clothing and accessories chain that's having trouble getting shoppers in the door. "Foot traffic" into the stores is down, and so are sales.
CEO Steve Lawrence has promised analysts more excitement(!) to pull people in, including "more disruptive window displays and visual effects." But the company has stopped remodeling its stores, and is closing 30 to 40 of them in 2019.
Francesca's wants to do more business online, but its e-commerce sales have been relatively modest so far.
The company's sales and stock price have been showing some improvement, but that hasn't stopped speculation that Francesca's may not be special enough to survive and could be headed toward bankruptcy.
30. Z Gallerie
Stores closing: 44
The upscale furniture store Z Gallerie is one of several retailers to file for bankruptcy in 2019, though the chain is hoping to stay in business now that it has a new owner.
But in March, the retailer announced it was closing 17 stores, and it recently decided to shutter 27 more. That leaves just 34 to carry on.
In the bankruptcy filing, Z Gallerie said it bungled with e-commerce, an expansion and a pricey distribution center, Bloomberg reported.
Here's a tip for saving even more when you hit a furniture liquidation sale: Use a cash-back debit card that offers bonus rewards for furniture purchases.
29. The Children's Place
Stores closing: Up to 45
If you're used to taking your kids to The Children's Place to get them clothes for back-to-school, be warned that your store might be gone by the next school-shopping season.
For the past few years the retailer has been working toward a goal of closing 300 stores by 2020.
Executives told Wall Street analysts in early March that 40 to 45 locations would be shuttered in 2019, and another 45 would close next year.
The Children's Place has been trying to get its arithmetic right: It's trimming its store count and giving its website more attention, to boost profits. The chain recently started letting customers shop online and have the stuff shipped to one of its stores.
Stores closing: 46
Pharmacy giant CVS Health caught the store-closing bug and shut down nearly 50 of its locations in April.
The company says the stores, in 16 states spread across the U.S., were "underperforming." They represented just a teensy percentage of the roughly 9,600 CVS drugstores nationwide.
The cuts included the world's largest CVS, a 64,000-square-foot monster of a store in Springfield, Missouri. The typical CVS is under 13,000 square feet.
CVS is now making over hundreds of its stores as "HealthHUBs," to capitalize on its takeover of the health insurer Aetna. The remodeled pharmacies have larger in-store clinics and sell more medical equipment, such as machines that help with sleep apnea.
Stores closing: 51
Home improvement retailer Lowe's has been taking a hacksaw to part of its business. It planned to cut 20 stores in the U.S. and 31 in Canada in early 2019.
Lowe's still has more than 2,000 locations between the two countries. CEO Marvin Ellison said in a statement that the downsizing is just part of "building a stronger business."
The company says most of the closings involved Lowe's stores that were operating within 10 miles of another location.
In August, Lowe's told thousands of employees that they were getting the axe. The retailer decided to stop hiring its own workers to clean the stores and assemble grills and other products, and instead use outside businesses to handle that stuff.
Stores closing: 127
Target, Kmart and Walmart opened their first stores in the same year (1962) and were once known as the "big three" discount retailers. But soon, there might be only two left standing.
Kmart appears to be spiraling toward its death. The chain's troubled parent company Sears Holdings closed over 150 Kmart stores in 2018 and has steadily been shutting down more in 2019.
The company has officially announced more than 50 Kmart closings in 2019, but USA Today reports that employees at another 74 locations have learned their stores are closing by the end of the year.
Back in 2000, Kmart was everywhere: Some 2,200 stores dotted the U.S. and its territories. Fewer than 200 remain.
25. Victoria's Secret
Stores closing: 53
It's Victoria's Not-So-Secret: Consumers no longer get all steamed up over the lingerie brand, so it has gone from hot to not.
The chain has failed to keep up changing tastes. Analysts say that instead of the skimpy styles at Victoria's Secret, women are more interested in underwear that's comfortable and made for all body types.
The retailer planned to close more than 50 of its stores in 2019. That's more than three times the number that shut down in a more typical year, according to Bloomberg.
Executives said recently that Victoria's Secret would stop offering so many discounts, because customers had become hooked on them. J.C. Penney also tried to cut back on price cuts — and shoppers revolted.
24. Party City
Stores closing: 55
The tough climate for retailers can be a real party pooper.
Just ask Party City, which is closing about 6% of its roughly 900 party supply stores. In May, the company said it would shut down 45 locations, but it later upped the number by 10.
In a typical year, Party City closes only 10 to 15 of its stores — total.
The chain says it needs to scale back so it can keep the party going at its most profitable locations. A shortage of helium for balloons hurt business earlier in the year, but Party City said in a later news release that it had "secured additional helium supply."
23. Office Depot
Stores closing: 59
These days, Pam from The Office might very well go on Amazon to order Post-its, toner and other very important stuff for Dunder Mifflin, instead of heading off to the nearest office supply store in Scranton.
And that's no joke for Office Depot. As it fights for customers and for its survival, the company has been forced to keep closing money-losing stores.
In a May filing with federal regulators, the retailer said it's shuttering about 60 of its Office Depot and OfficeMax stores this year, in the final wave of a three-year plan to close about 300 locations.
So customers won't leave its stores discouraged by long waits for print and copy services, Office Depot has started letting them reserve a spot in line by using the chain's app.
22. Lord & Taylor
Stores closing: 9
America's oldest department store company (dating back to 1826) closed its iconic flagship store on New York's Fifth Ave. before the end of 2018, and Lord & Taylor planned to put several more of its department stores out of business this year.
The New York store had stood for more than a century and was the first department store to put animated displays in its store windows at Christmas time.
The chain's other locations are mostly found in malls.
Meanwhile, L&T is hoping its survival will come via a unique new partnership with Walmart: A Lord & Taylor site is now found within Walmart's website and offers shoppers 125 upscale brands.
21. Destination Maternity
Stores closing: 210
No surprise here: Many expectant moms would rather shop from the comfort of home than trudge to the mall.
So, Destination Maternity — which also operates Motherhood Maternity and A Pea in the Pod stores — has been struggling to compete against online retailers.
With sales dropping, the chain filed for bankruptcy this fall and said in a court filing that it would shut down 183 stores, on top of 27 others that closed recently.
"This decision is a difficult, but necessary one. In a challenging retail environment, we have had to make some very tough choices," said Destination Maternity CEO Lisa Gavales, in a statement. Her company wants to sell more of its maternity clothes online.
Stores closing: 107
Things are still looking grim for Sears, which closed a slew of its department stores in 2018 and filed for bankruptcy.
It has followed up with bunches and bunches more closings in 2019, which have cut stores including the Sears at the largest shopping center in the U.S., Minnesota's Mall of America.
A hedge fund led by the retailer's former CEO bought Sears Holdings in February in hopes of saving hundreds of Sears and Kmart stores. But a new announcement in August targeted more than 20 additional Sears locations for closure — bringing the year's semi-official count to 93.
Then, in later weeks, 14 other Sears stores learned they'd be shutting down before the end of the year, too, according to USA Today.
19. Performance Bicycle
Stores closing: 102
What was once America's largest chain of bicycle stores has come to the end of the road.
In early 2019, the operator of Performance Bicycle shops in 20 states from coast to coast held liquidation sales at all of its more than 100 locations.
Parent company Advanced Sports Enterprises filed for bankruptcy protection in mid-November and then hit the brakes on the Performance chain, which started as a bike catalog business in 1981.
Executives said the company was wallowing in debt and grappling with higher costs due to tariffs imposed in the ongoing trade war. Performance Bicycle isn't gone completely: It's still selling bikes and accessories online.
18. Pier 1 Imports
Stores closing: Up to 145
Pier 1 is in trouble as deep as those quirky, bowl-shaped papasan chairs the home furnishings retailer is known for.
The chain said it closed out 2018 with a dismal holiday shopping season that saw sales drop 13.7% from a year earlier. Business has been just as bad in 2019.
Time may be running out like the wick on a Pier 1 scented candle: Industry observers say the company could be headed toward bankruptcy.
To keep its ship afloat, Pier 1 is ready to close more than 140 stores, interim CEO Cheryl Bachelder told The Dallas Morning News. The final number will be lower if landlords cut the company some slack.
17. Signet Jewelers
Stores closing: 150
Signet is the world's largest jewelry retailer, the giant company behind many of the major chains that sell the sparkly stuff, including Kay Jewelers, Jared The Galleria of Jewelry, and Zales.
The company had a not-so-dazzling 2018 holiday sales season and says it's closing 150 stores as part of a three-year plan to lose 13% of its more than 3,500 locations around the globe.
Signet is most eager to pull out of dying malls. It says it's shifting to more "off-mall" locations, including stores that stand alone.
Plus, the company has been putting more of a gleam on its e-commerce business. In a recent three-month period, Signet's online sales were up about 10% from a year earlier.
16. LifeWay Christian Stores
Stores closing: 170
Even a chain of religious stores doesn't have a prayer in the current retail environment.
LifeWay Christian Stores has announced that it's shutting down its entire chain of religious bookstores across 30 states, from Pennsylvania to California.
The company says sales and foot traffic have been declining at its brick-and-mortar locations. Lifeway says it reaches five times more people online, so it will shift even more resources into its digital business.
Still, LifeWay CEO Ben Mandrell told Christianity Today that internet retailing has its limits: “There’s a need in every community for people to go and peruse and browse Christian books. It’s not the same to peek inside online.”
15. Forever 21
Stores closing: Up to 178
Teens have loved Forever 21, one of the giants in the "fast-fashion" business. The chain's often massive stores offer low-price clothing that changes rapidly to keep up with style trends.
But as young shoppers question whether Forever 21's disposable clothing is good for the planet, the retailer has been forced to climb onto the bankruptcy bandwagon.
"This does NOT mean that we are going out of business," Forever 21 says, in a statement to its customers. "On the contrary, filing for bankruptcy protection is a deliberate and decisive step to put us on a successful track for the future."
"Forever" could soon come to an end for nearly 200 stores in the U.S. That's more than a third of the total.
Stores closing: Up to 200
Videogames have become more of a thing you download, less of a thing you go to a store to buy — and that's a big problem for GameStop and its more than 5,700 locations in 14 countries.
After the company announced widening losses and a 14.3% drop in sales during the May-through-July quarter, executives told analysts on a conference call that 180 to 200 stores would close by the end of the year.
And, GameStop Chief Financial Officer James Bell warned of a "much larger tranche of closures over the coming 12 to 24 months."
GameStop traces its roots back to Babbage's, a small seller of educational software that opened in Dallas in 1984. The retailer has gone through several ownership changes and has had its current name since 2000.
Stores closing: 200
CVS isn't the only pharmacy giant that's taking a dose of downsizing. Walgreens announced it's shutting down about 200 of its U.S. stores.
In a statement to media outlets, Walgreens said the closings amount to fewer than 3% of the chain's nearly 9,600 locations in the U.S. The company told federal regulators in a filing that the goal is to achieve "increased cost efficiencies."
Walgreens previously indicated that it's under financial pressure because of low generic drug prices, Reuters reported.
The chain is trying new ways to lure customers into its stores. For example, there's now an arrangement that lets Urban Outfitters' online shoppers pick up their orders at Walgreens locations.
12. Things Remembered
Stores closing: More than 200
Things Remembered is a store where you can get practically anything engraved, embroidered and personalized: jewelry, key chains, bathrobes, oven mitts, door knockers, hip flasks, piggy banks, paperweights, and so on and so on.
But consumers haven't been giving Things Remembered a whole lot of thought, it seems. The retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in early February.
The chain this year closed more than half its roughly 400 stores. It sold others, along with its online and mail-order businesses, to Enesco, a maker of Disney figurines and other collectibles.
Things Remembered is using technology to avoid becoming a forgotten retail relic: The shops now have "personalization bars" where customers can use iPads to design unique, personalized gifts.
Stores closing: 222
The plus-size women's clothing retailer Avenue Stores is another chain that will be gone from the retail map entirely by the time 2019 is done.
The chain — which started out as Sizes Unlimited in 1983 — decided to shut down all of its stores in 33 states, according to a news release from the liquidator.
Avenue had been looking for a buyer and had warned employees that if it couldn't find one, it would have to shut down, the New York Post reported.
Women who wear larger sizes are frustrated to see Avenue go, says Marcy Cruz, blog editor for PLUS Model Magazine. "Many brands feel like women over a size 24 are not shopping," Cruz told New York's Newsday.
Stores closing: 6
Even popular and trendy Target finds itself with money-losing stores that it needs to shake loose.
The company said it would close a half-dozen by February, in what has become an annual event. The chain shuttered 13 in February 2018, and a dozen a year earlier.
But don't worry, Target fans — you'll still have plenty of places to use your REDcard credit card. The retailer continues to grow and evolve.
The discount retailer says it's opening 30 new, smaller locations each year, plus it plans to remodel 300 of its larger locations in 2020 by giving them new lighting and flooring, better toy departments, and spiffed-up grocery sections.
Stores closing: The first of at least 250
Chico's can't beat Amazon, so it's joining 'em: The retailer is now selling its women's clothing and accessories on the online superstore, and on QVC, too.
Meantime, Chico's says it will close at least 250 of U.S. stores over the next three years, though mostly after 2019. Executives say they want the retailer to have more of a digital presence, less of an old-fashioned physical one.
The closings will include not only Chico's locations but also some of the company's White House Black Market and Soma stores.
Chico's has a surprising backstory: The chain started in 1983 as Chico’s Folk Art Specialties, a shop selling Mexican folk art and sweaters on Sanibel Island, Florida. The owners named the place after a friend's pet parrot, Chico.
8. Charming Charlie
Stores closing: 261
The charm wore off for this seller of colorful handbags, fashionable sunglasses, flashy jewelry and other women's accessories and clothing.
Charming Charlie filed for bankruptcy for the second time in less than two years, and this time it was fatal. In the summer of 2019, the retailer closed all of its stores in 38 states and put itself out of business.
In the new bankruptcy filing, the company said its costs — including "onerous leases" on its stores — just became too much to handle.
But we may not have seen the end of Charming Charlie. Founder Charlie Chanaratsopon hopes to bring the company back to life and paid $1.1 million for the chain's name (well, it is his name, after all), mailing list and other intellectual property.
Stores closing: 4
At Macy's, it's practically a tradition that an announcement of store closings comes as soon as the holiday season ends. But this time, Macy's got an early jump on things.
The company revealed last November that a department store in suburban New York would close in early 2019. Later, a few more shut down.
Chief Financial Officer Paula Price told analysts during a conference call that a total of four stores had closed by mid-May, versus 12 that went out of business in 2018. She pointed out that the company also is opening new stores.
Analyst Neil Sauders with Global Data Retail says Macy's needs to keep losing locations "where the return on investment is not viable."
Stores closing: 363
A steady drip of store closings from the regional discount chain Shopko turned into a flood following the company's bankruptcy filing in January. Eventually, the retailer decided to shut down all of its stores by mid-June.
That was after executives tried but failed to find someone to buy the company and keep as many as 120 stores open.
Shopko got its start in Green Bay, Wisconsin in 1962; it promised to offer customers "quality, service and low prices." The retailer made its name by going into smaller markets in the Midwest, the West and the Pacific Northwest that other chains ignored.
The problem is that Amazon is in all of those places now.
6. Family Dollar
Stores closing: 390
Dollar stores had been bucking (pun intended) some of the trends squeezing other retailers, but now they're having difficulty, too.
As a result, up to 390 Family Dollar locations will shut down this year, and another 200 will be turned into Dollar Tree stores. Dollar Tree bought Family Dollar in 2015.
In a news release announcing the closings, Dollar Tree CEO Gary Philbin mentioned tariffs on imported goods as one of the challenges facing the company.
The company is updating another 1,000 Family Dollar stores — by adding coolers and freezers to hold more food products, giving customers additional beauty and household items to choose from, and offering stuff that's sold for $1 at Dollar Tree.
5. Charlotte Russe
Stores closing: 512
Charlotte Russe — a women's clothing chain that has been around since the mid-1970s — filed for bankruptcy in February and initially said it would close about one-fifth of its more than 500 locations.
But the retailer's website later announced that all stores would be shutting down. The bankruptcy filing said the chain's sales had suffered a "dramatic decrease."
Charlotte Russe borrowed its name from a French dessert, and a new owner is trying to give shoppers another helping.
Toronto-based YM Inc. bought the brand in late March and reopened a few stores over the summer. The goal is to put 100 of them back in business, according to a tweet from the Charlotte Russe Twitter account.
Stores closing: 557
Fred's is yet another merchant that will be gone from the retail map entirely when 2019 draws to a close.
The ailing chain had about 560 discount stores and pharmacies at the start of the year — and then came wave after wave of closings. But they weren't enough to save the business.
So, Fred's filed for bankruptcy in early September and said it would shut down its remaining locations in the Southeast and Midwest.
Fred's had hoped to become a giant in the drugstore business. When Walgreens and Rite Aid were trying to combine last year, Fred's offered to buy hundreds of stores that might have been left out of the deal. But the Walgreens-Rite Aid merger never happened.
Stores closing: 650
After almost 60 years in business, women's clothing retailer Dressbarn is hanging it up.
Parent company Ascena Retail Group has decided to put the entire chain out of business and focus on its more profitable stores for women and girls. Ascena's other brands include Ann Taylor, Loft and Justice.
You see them in practically every mall and strip shopping center — but many of the customers are at home, shopping online. So, Ascena has been doing some Marie Kondo-style tidying in its closet. Early in 2019, it sold its Maurices chain.
Dressbarn got its start in Stamford, Connecticut, in the early 1960s. Executives say it was founded by a couple "who recognized the need of women who were entering the workforce for a convenient one-stop shop where they could find fashion at a value."
Stores closing: 800
Gymboree was playing a game of retail dodgeball — and lost.
The chain that sold clothing for kids and babies came out of bankruptcy in 2017, but in January 2019 the retailer filed all over again and announced it was shutting down all of its roughly 800 Gymboree and Crazy 8 stores.
The company was no match for competitors including Amazon, Walmart, Target and The Children's Place — which has been closing stores of its own but has come out stronger.
And now, The Children's Place is planning to bring back its former rival, sort of. The Children's Place bought the Gymboree name and says it will sell Gymboree clothing at 200 Children's Place stores starting in early 2020.
1. Payless ShoeSource
Stores closing: 2,100
For generations, Payless was America's go-to for cheap footwear.
In the very early days of the company, it advertised with the exuberant jingle, "Man alive! Two for five!" — meaning you could get two pairs of shoes for just $5.
But even Payless has had trouble competing against the deep discounts online and at stores like T.J. Maxx. So, the chain announced it was closing its last 2,100 stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico and would go out of business.
Payless had filed for bankruptcy protection in 2017. At the time, the chain was all over the map: It had more than 4,400 locations in over 30 countries.
Stores aren't the only ones struggling. These 20 popular chains are closing the most restaurants in 2019. When you make your goodbye visit, be sure to use a credit card that rewards extra cash back for dining out.
26. Burger King
2019 and 2020 closings: Up to 350
The home of the Whopper has been closing at least 100 restaurants per year, but more than double that number (250) were set to leave the king's realm in 2019. Two more have closed in 2020, maybe on the way to a more “normal” cutback this year.
Lagging locations have been on the chopping block to make way for the "Burger King of Tomorrow": new BKs incorporating technology such as self-order kiosks inside and digital menu boards at the drive-thru.
Each new restaurant is expected to do about $500,000 more business per year than the old ones being shut down.
Burger King — called "Insta-Burger King" when it was founded in Florida in 1953 — says it serves 11 million fans around the world every day.
25. McCormick & Schmick's
2019 and 2020 closings: 7
The upscale McCormick & Schmick's seafood-and-steaks restaurants have been doing a slow fade since the chain was purchased in 2012 by Landry's, the owner of Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, Morton's The Steakhouse and other dining brands.
At the time of the sale, there were 85 M&S locations in the U.S. Today, the website lists only 32.
That's after at least seven closings since early 2019. Restaurants have gone out of business in cities including St. Louis; Denver; and Providence, Rhode Island, according to local media reports. Most recently, the M&S in San Diego closed unexpectedly just hours after hosting a New Year’s Eve celebration.
Yes, there really was a (Bill) McCormick and a (Doug) Schmick. They launched their chain in Portland, Oregon, in 1979.
24. Steak ’n Shake
2019 and 2020 closings: 107
Launched in Illinois in 1934, this brand was built on handcrafting cuts of steak to make better burgers. Steak 'n Shake says each year it serves 110 million "steakburgers" and 60 million milkshakes.
The Indianapolis-based chain shut down restaurants in waves throughout 2019 and has closed at least one so far in 2020. Executives have said 103 of the closings were just "temporary" and that most of those Steak 'n Shakes will reopen under new franchisees and with a new counter-service format, like fast-food places.
The company has been plagued by a drop in customer visits and rising costs. Things have gotten so bad that CEO Sardar Biglari floated the idea of cutting the milkshakes' signature cherries to save $1 million a year.
2019 and 2020 closings: 16
O'Charley's fans are finding they have fewer places to enjoy "free pie Wednesdays" and all-you-can-eat-catfish Thursdays.
This Southern-flavored sit-down restaurant chain that got its start in Nashville, Tenn., in 1971 has been quietly trimming its roster of more than 200 locations in 17 states.
Eight O'Charley's shut down over the last weekend in June 2019, says Nation's Restaurant News. Local news reports indicated that at least six others closed earlier in last year, including an Orlando, Florida, restaurant near the Universal theme parks.
So far in 2020, two locations in Kentucky have gone out of business.
Though O'Charley's has been struggling, executives told Wall Street analysts on a conference call last year that they were seeing signs of improvement.
22. Pizza Hut
2019 and 2020 closings: About 450
Older generations may have gone to Pizza Hut on first dates, or may have fond memories of hitting the Hut with the team to celebrate a big win with personal pan pizzas, breadsticks and pitchers of Pepsi.
Soon, the experience of having a meal at Pizza Hut will be nothing but a memory — because the chain is getting out of the sit-down restaurant business. It's becoming a strictly carryout and delivery pizza chain, like Domino's and Papa John's.
As part of the transition, the number of Pizza Hut locations would fall from around 7,450 to about 7,000, executives told analysts on an August 2019 conference call.
People who grew up eating at Pizza Hut took to Twitter in mourning. Model Chrissy Teigen reacted by cursing, followed by: "I love them because I like to see my toppings on top of the cheese. Long live the hut."
21. TGI Fridays
2019 and 2020 closings: 38
Older sit-down restaurant chains like TGI Fridays are being squeezed by America's generational and economic divides.
They're failing to catch on with younger diners, who prefer fresher and more innovative foods. The casual-dining restaurants also are getting caught in the middle as Americans gravitate to either higher-end establishments or fast-food joints.
TGI Fridays has been retooling its menu and trying to return to its singles-bar roots, but those efforts didn’t help much last year. Sales plunged, so the company is scaling back.
In 2019, 34 company-owned and franchise restaurants had their very last “last call,” according to NBC’s “Today,” and media reports indicate at least another four either have closed or will be shutting down in 2020, including the only Fridays in Rhode Island.
20. Boston Market
2019 and 2020 closings: 50
Last year, Boston Market closed about 10% of its more than 450 rotisserie chicken restaurants — including the last two in Boston, the city that gave the chain its name. Five more have closed in 2020, from Kansas to New Jersey.
The company started out in 1985 as "Boston Chicken" in suburban Newton. It's now headquartered in Colorado.
In a letter to employees, CEO Frances Allen pinned the closings on "increased competition, shifting consumer preferences, and rising costs on everything from goods and labor to real estate and utilities."
Boston Market has been through tough times before. In 1998, it filed for bankruptcy, and two years later the company got taken over by — surprisingly enough — McDonald's. The fast-food giant flew the coop in 2007 when it sold the chicken chain.
2019 and 2020 closings: 40
Owner Dine Brands admits that this neighborhood bar and grill is a little behind the times. So, the company has been doing a lot of pruning.
In 2018, the number of Applebee's dropped by 90 (from 1,936 to 1,846, according to reports). Company executives told Restaurant Business that the plan was to close another 20 each in 2019 and 2020.
The idea is not to kill off Applebee’s entirely but fine-tune it. There will be greater focus on off-premises catering, takeout and delivery services. The leadership also is tinkering with healthier menu items and more ethnic food choices.
Atlanta-born Applebee’s first opened in 1980.
18. Bar Louie
2019 and 2020 closings: 39
This 30-year-old gastropub slings bar food with a twist, like bourbon BBQ pork pineapple flatbreads and nacho-crunch craft burgers. Falling victim to bankruptcy, Bar Louie permanently shut down dozens of locations across the U.S in late January 2020.
The closures were abrupt; for example, zero notice was given to employees in Colorado, according to a local report.
The company has managed to keep over 90 locations up and running. Tom Frick, CEO of Bar Louie, said in a news release that shaking dozens of restaurants loose will “help us to focus on our profitable core locations and expand areas that have a proven track record of success.”
2019 and 2020 closings: 30
If you're a fan of Cosi —the chain whose sandwiches come with their ingredients tucked into toasty flatbread — it's getting harder and harder to find one of these that's still open.
Cosi's website shows only 11 locations are left, down from more than 150 in 2008. The company closed 30 of its stores near the end of 2019 and said it would move more heavily into catering.
A couple of months later, Cosi filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, for the second time since 2016.
In a statement announcing the bankruptcy, the company said it's trying to respond to "current customer dining trends" — and indicated it would open some new shops during the first half of 2020.
2019 and 2020 closings: 15
You think this burger chain has an odd name now? The original name was even stranger: Freddie Fuddruckers. Who is not and never was a real person.
The business was founded by a guy named Philip J. Romano, who would eventually put his own name on a restaurant chain, Romano's Macaroni Grill.
But back to Romano's earlier creation, Fuddruckers, which boasts that its juicy hamburgers are "the world's greatest." The brand is now owned by the Luby's cafeteria people, and they've been closing their company-owned Fuddruckers locations.
The chain's website shows there are now nearly 180 company-owned and franchise Fuddruckers around the world. Financial statements indicate that at least 15 locations closed in 2019.
2019 and 2020 closings: At least 33
A couple of former Alaska gold prospectors started Perkins in Cincinnati in the late 1950s. They had far more success with restaurants than they ever did with precious metals.
Customers raved about their buttermilk pancakes, and within a few short years they were franchising their concept, originally called Perkins Pancake House.
By the 2010s, the company was facing a tall stack of financial trouble. It filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and again in 2019. The chain has weathered several rounds of closures, which often come without warning. The most recent took place in January 2020 in Waterloo, Iowa, and Johnson City, Tennessee.
Perkins’ website says there are currently 317 locations in 32 states and Canada — which, by our count, suggests more than 30 have closed since the start of 2019.
14. Metro Diner
2019 and 2020 closings: 8
Founded in 1992 in Jacksonville, Florida, this diner chain shot up in popularity after it was featured on Guy Fieri’s Food Network show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” in 2010.
The chain has since closed both of its Las Vegas locations as well as restaurants in Indianapolis; Birmingham, Alabama; South Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Macon, Georgia.
One explanation for the pullout from Las Vegas is the wage laws in Nevada. The state requires employers to pay tipped workers the regular minimum wage, while many other states allow workers who make tips to be paid a lower base rate.
Metro Diner said the law made it difficult for the company to turn a profit.
2019 and 2020 closings: 1
When the first Benihana restaurant opened back in 1964, it delighted guests with its overtly theatrical approach to dining. (The onion volcano, in particular, never fails to entertain.)
The resulting chain also helped introduce Americans to teppanyaki, a style of Japanese cooking that uses a griddle to quickly fry noodles and thin slices of food. While Benihana fully exploited this niche for years, many other teppanyaki restaurants have since risen to compete.
Though the Sacramento, California, Benihana went out of business recently, the company this year announced plans to expand in the U.S. and develop franchises in the Caribbean, Central America and South America.
12. Ruby Tuesday
2019 and 2020 closings: 26
Restaurant companies can be notoriously tight-lipped about closings, so sometimes it's just a matter of doing the math. The location count for Ruby Tuesday is steadily shrinking.
According to local media reports (often using the headline "Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday"), the lovable casual dining chain with the Endless Garden salad bar shut down at least 26 of its restaurants last year. That's after turning out the lights at 51 locations in 2018.
September closures in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan and Massachusetts were typical. A simple notice appeared on the door apologizing for the inconvenience.
Founded in 1972, Ruby Tuesday was a pioneer of fresh ingredients and handcrafted cocktails. The very first one was a tiny hangout near the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
11. Marie Callender's
2019 and 2020 closings: 19
The Marie Callender's name may make you think of chicken pot pies and banana cream pies in the frozen food aisle. There was a real Marie Callender, and she started out making dessert pies in her modest Orange County, Calif., home in the 1940s.
By the 1950s, she was baking up to 200 a day for restaurants in the area, and it wasn't long before the family decided to open its own restaurants to showcase Marie's pies.
Business was crumbling while the chain was owned by the Perkins pancake restaurants company, which filed for bankruptcy in 2019. Marie Callender’s is going forward now with a new owner.
Not long ago there were more than 50 locations in the western U.S., but the number has dwindled to fewer than 30. At least fans still have the frozen pies when they need a Marie's fix.
10. Kona Grill
2019 and 2020 closings: 19
When it opened in 1998, Kona Grill was unique in many ways. Its 40 sauces, made from scratch, introduced global flavors that elevated ordinary stir-fry and sushi.
The chain filed for bankruptcy last year, closed 19 locations and began looking for a buyer.
Kona Grills are beautiful restaurants, but they cost around $4 million to build. A former CEO with the company tells Restaurant Business the leadership was overambitious with expansion plans.
When sales started to drop off in 2015, Kona panicked and cut back on culinary innovation, management, support staff and employee training. All of this had a negative impact on the guest experience.
9. Red Robin
2019 and 2020 closings: 10
Kid-friendly Red Robin, which was founded 50 years ago in Seattle, isn't going to be flying quite so high.
The company says one reason for its recent decision to shut down 10 of its restaurants was the hard times at U.S. shopping malls. Seven of the 10 were located within malls.
In a news release, Red Robin said it hopes shutting down some money-losing restaurants would "drive improved profitability."
Sales and customer numbers have been declining at Red Robin, and the Burger Works fast-food chain that the company attempted a few years ago was just one more fast-food blunder. It didn't last long.
8. Joe’s Crab Shack
2019 and 2020 closings: 3
This seafood restaurant chain, which first opened in Houston in 1991, shrank by over a third when 41 locations abruptly went out of business in 2017. And more have closed since then, including restaurants in California, Texas and South Carolina last year.
Like the crabs it serves, the company has found itself in hot water a few times in recent years. In 2014, after the company publicly announced it would stop using oil containing trans fats to cook its seafood, a consumer group claimed Joe’s locations were still using a dipping sauce loaded with trans fats.
A year later, Joe’s Crab Shack encountered backlash when it tested a no-tipping policy. Employees’ wages were increased to compensate for the lack of tips, but customers weren’t thrilled to see higher menu prices.
2019 and 2020 closings: 6
Luby's operates all but one of its cafeteria-style restaurants in Texas, where the chain is as much a part of the landscape as tumbleweeds, armadillos and H-E-B supermarkets.
The website says Luby's even "tastes like Texas," but apparently some people in the Lone Star State have been losing their appetite for the company's chicken fried steak, "square fish," fried broccoli and other fare.
Luby's has been in a slump. In the most recent quarter, sales were down 3% at its cafeterias open at least a year, compared to a year earlier, and 10.5% fewer customers were coming through the doors.
The chain has been shutting down its most troubled locations. There were 84 Luby's in late 2018, but now there are 78.
2019 and 2020 closings: 25
This chain traces its roots to an ice cream shop called Friendly that opened in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1935. A hamburger was added to the menu five years later, and a family-friendly restaurant was born.
At one time there were more than 500 Friendly's, but by the start of 2019 just 200 remained. In April 2019, CEO George Mitchell announced the closing of 23 of the restaurants in the Northeast, and so far in 2020 additional locations have closed in Massachusetts and upstate New York.
A lot of folks will miss those Fribble milkshakes and heartwarming SuperMelts.
Mitchell told shareholders that the decision would “best position the brand for a bright future.” Sales at Friendly's sank 11% between 2018 and 2019, Restaurant Business reports.
5. Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant
2019 and 2020 closings: 7
This 30-year-old American brewpub, known for its German-style lagers, has definitely seen hoppier days.
The chain has been dwindling. All four Arizona locations shut down over the last year, and early in 2020 Gordon Biersch said “Aloha” (meaning “goodbye,” in this case) to its only restaurant in Hawaii.
Just 17 locations are still operating across the U.S. — half as many as there once were.
Gordon Biersch is trying to give itself a new spin. The company’s very first brewpub, which opened in Palo Alto, California, in 1988, has been rebranded as “Dan Gordon’s” and now offers a farm-to-table menu with a big focus on barbecue.
4. Roy Rogers
2019 and 2020 closings: 7
The biggest challenge for this chain might be acquainting younger generations with its namesake. In the 1940s and '50s, the King of the Cowboys appeared in more than 100 films and had his own TV show with his wife, Dale Evans, and his legendary horse, Trigger.
The Western-themed fast-food restaurants are known for breakfast platters, hamburgers, fried chicken and an extensive “fixin’s bar.”
There were once more than 600 locations, but now fewer than 50 remain. A number of those original locations were rebranded or sold off by former owners; Roy Rogers' new owners had their eye on revitalizing the chain before the coronavirus stalled their efforts.
By our count, seven locations have been shuttered since early 2019, including two of the eight Roy's in New Jersey.
2019 and 2020 closings: 150
Your favorite Starbucks may have disappeared in the last year or so — but at least you still have close to 30,000 others worldwide to choose from.
The coffee colossus planned to close 150 of its shops in 2019. Most were in large cities that have numerous Starbucks locations, so you may just have to go just a little out of your way for a Frappuccino fix.
The stores being targeted were performing poorly, which CEO Kevin Johnson said was unacceptable.
Johnson wants Starbucks to do a better job of anticipating the ever-changing needs and preferences of its customers. The company is focusing on healthier options and promoting its app to boost sales.
2. Taco Bell
2019 and 2020 closings: 7
Say it isn’t so. The chain whose Cravings Value Menu goes easy on family bank accounts has closed more than a half-dozen locations since 2019, most recently in the small island community of Kodiak, Alaska, which lost its only Taco Bell.
The closures will hardly make a dent in the Taco Bell empire, but tell that to the customer who lives near one of those spots and now has to travel farther (possibly by boat) to satisfy a chalupa craving.
Taco Bell has traditionally been the cash cow of Yum! Brands, which also owns KFC and Pizza Hut. It’s investing more in international expansion and has even experimented with a Taco Bell pop-up hotel in Palm Springs, Calif.
Veggie options and more jobs also are on the horizon.
2019 and 2020 closings: Thousands?
Despite its “Eat Fresh” campaign, Subway apparently isn’t quite fresh enough for increasingly health-conscious consumers.
In 2016, the sandwich chain closed more U.S. locations (359) than it opened. It continued to struggle in 2017 and shut down 866 shops. That ballooned to more than 1,100 in 2018, and about the same number vanished last year.
It’s anyone’s guess how brutal 2020 will be.
The company's website shows that Subway still has around 23,600 restaurants in the U.S. and thousands of international locations. Its efforts to woo back customers include rolling out kiosk ordering and more comfortable seating.