As Store Closures Mount, America Is Losing Shopping Square Footage

Jan 21, 2017

The holiday season’s numbers are in and it is clear the gap between winners and losers is only growing. For all the headlines you about Macy’s, Sears (shld) and Kohl’s (kss) weak and declining results, overall industry sales were actually up 3.6% in November and December, according to First Data.

But much of that growth came from online sales, not brick and mortar shops. Often, the spoils went to younger retailers who have smartly avoided overbuilding. Physical retailers continue to struggle: Macy’s (m) and Sears announced 250 store closings between them. A smaller chain, The Limited, said it was closing all of its stores altogether.

brb_retail_sqft Nicolas Rapp 

The result is that retail space per capita in the United states is declining. That's despite an increase in the construction of new retail spaces, which still badly lag pre-recession levels. And the trend isn't likely to reverse itself. Expect more store closings in 2017: after all, the U.S. has about 1 billion square feet of retail space more than it needs, according to Costar.

A version of this article appears in the February 1, 2017 issue of Fortune with the headline "Expect More Store Closures in 2017."

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