Store opening announcements keep pace with 2021

The return to stores continues, with closings down 60 percent

The dark clouds are building as inflation has recently hit levels not seen since 1981 and the Fed tries to engineer a “soft landing” by raising interest rates to slow the economy and bring inflation down without triggering a recession. Yet U.S. consumers remain resilient, supported by ongoing labor market strength and about $2.5 trillion of excess savings from the pandemic.

The resilience was apparent in June retail sales, which rose a better-than-expected 1 percent month-over-month, driven by growth in nine of 13 categories. That was bolstered during the two days of Amazon’s “Prime Day” 2022 in July, when total U.S. online spending grew nearly 9 percent year-over-year to $11.9 billion, according to Adobe.

Forecasts for the back-to-school season suggest consumers’ adaptability will continue, at least into the fall. However, spending is expected to shift toward apparel and supplies and away from electronics, which did very well the prior two seasons with virtual and hybrid learning.

Consumer trends

Learn more about the current state of consumer behavior and shopping trends.

Consumers are also returning to stores as the pandemic eases further and concerns about contracting COVID-19 diminish. This is well reflected in Mastercard SpendingPulse’s breakdown of U.S. retail sales in June, which put in-store sales up 11.7 percent year-over-year and ecommerce sales up only 1.1 percent.

Retailers least vulnerable to ecommerce opening the most stores

In the first six months of 2022, major U.S.-headquartered retailers announced plans to open about 5,080 stores, very similar to the first six months of last year, according to analytical work by The Daily on Retail, a financially focused industry research platform. Additionally, they announced plans to close about 895 stores, down 63 percent from roughly 2,410 closing announcements during the same time last year.

As has been the case for some time now, opening announcements have been concentrated in the discount/dollar and off-price sectors, which can be less vulnerable to online competition and less translatable to ecommerce than other areas of retail.

Five Below, which expanded its price points above $5 with its Five Beyond initiative, said earlier this year it plans to triple its store count to more than 3,500 by the end of fiscal year 2030. This includes opening 925-1,000 stores over the next four years on a base of more than 1,200 stores.

Family Dollar plans to open 400 new stores this year on a base of 8,000-plus stores, while Dollar Tree plans to open 190 stores on a base of 8,000-plus stores.

Dollar General is also growing aggressively, though we do not include management’s plan to open 1,110 new stores in 2022 in our YTD tally since it was announced in December 2021.

Turning to off-price retail, industry leader TJX announced plans to open 150 new stores this year across its concepts on a base of nearly 4,700 total stores. Burlington plans to open 90 net new stores on a base of about 840 stores. Additionally, Ross Stores recently reaffirmed plans to open 75 new Ross Dress for Less Stores and 25 dd’s DISCOUNTS this year on a base of more than 1,900 total stores.

On a combined basis and including a few others not mentioned above, discount/dollar and off-price retailers have announced plans to open about 2,240 stores, or nearly 45 percent of all announced new stores for the 2022 year-to-date period through June.

Auto parts retail also works better in-store than online

Auto parts retailers have also been less vulnerable to online pure-plays than other retailers and continue to focus more on the in-store experience and growing their store footprints.

O’Reilly Automotive plans to open 175-185 net new stores this year, which implies just over 3 percent growth on a base of more than 5,700 stores, and Advance Auto Parts announced plans earlier this year to open 125-150 new stores on a base of about 5,000 total stores.

AutoZone is also growing its store base but has not announced any new store opening plans yet in calendar 2022.

Importance of physical stores is not lost on digital natives

It is important to note many retailers opening stores are digital natives, including Warby Parker, which went public last fall and said in pre-IPO investor materials it expects to sustain strong revenue growth into fiscal 2022 by “expanding (its) retail footprint.” Management recently reaffirmed plans to open 40 new stores this year on a base of about 160, which implies 25 percent growth.

Other digital natives opening stores include Gap’s Athleta brand, which plans to open 30-40 new stores on a base of 227; Fabletics, which expects to open 30 new stores on a base of more than 70 stores; and bed and bath brand Brooklinen, which said in April it plans to have 25-30 stores by 2024, including a tripling of the store count from two in 2022.

Economy

Read more about the state of the economy and how the retail industry is constantly adjusting.

Closing announcements all over the map, with a skew toward apparel

Again, store closing announcements were down substantially in the first six months of 2022 when compared with the same period last year. Among retailers announcing closings, Foot Locker leads with plans to close 190 of its 2,800-plus stores. However, the footwear retailer is also planning to open 100 new stores this year, so the net planned reduction is 90 stores.

Other retailers closing stores include Sears Hometown, which is closing about half of its roughly 200 remaining stores; Rite Aid, which said in April it plans to close 145 of its 2,400-plus stores, including 63 closings that were announced in late-2021; and Amazon, which said it would shut all bricks-and-mortar bookstores and 4-star stores.

Rounding out the top 10 are Gap and Banana Republic North America, which plan to close 50-60 stores combined out of more than 960; Genesco, which is planning to close 46 of its 1,425 stores; and Skechers, Bath & Body Works, Chico’s and White House Black Market, and Children’s Place, all of which are planning to close at least 40 stores.

Methodology

Per The Daily on Retail’s methodology, openings and closings are specific numbers were announced, not completed, and could extend over several years. Also, The Daily on Retail’s tally excludes openings and closings that may be occurring in 2022 but were announced in 2021 or prior.

Patrick McKeever covered retail for more than 20 years as a Wall Street analyst before launching The Daily on Retail in 2019.

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