Big Box Closing Shops

This year America will say farewell to some of it’s long-standing retail stores. The retail landscape continues to change to accommodate consumer demands, shareholder demands and some retailers desire to try something new. 

Some of the Big Box retailers that will be closing stores this year:

Macy’s: Closing 100 of it’s 675 full-line locations

Sport’s Authority: 465 stores closing

Walmart: 269 stores closing, 154 of these are in US

Aeropostale: Closing 154 Stores (all Canadian stores and 113 in US)

Ralph Lauren: Plans to close 50 stores (and cut 1,000 employees)

Kmart: Closing 68 Stores

Sears: Closing 10 Stores

OfficeDepot: Closing 400 stores


American Eagle: Closing 150 locations



Macy’s: falling profitability

Sport’s Authority: After filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March and attempting to restructure debt, it is citing online competition as it’s cryptonite. 

Walmart: Plans to grow it’s e-commerce and bought for $3 Billion

Aeropostale: Blames competition for brands H&M and Forever 21, filed chapter 11 in May

Ralph Lauren: Attempting to cut costs because of falling profits. 

Kmart/Sears: Amazon, Lowe’s and Home Depot have chipped away at their portion of the market for appliances, and Target has taken their apparel customers.

OfficeDepot: Merger with OfficeMax

American Eagle: Cites falling profits

With all these stores closing? But as usual, when one door closes, another one opens. 

What’s popping up in their place? 

Pop-up stores, of course!

Barbara Kahn, a Marketing Professor at Wharton explains the shift away from large store shopping, and the influx of pop-up stores,“If too many people wear it, it's not a luxury anymore…There’s a paradox if you sell too much of something. Perhaps that is some of what's going on. It's a way to make it exclusive and special because of the time period.”

Christina Norsig founded Pop-Up Insider, a website devoted to connecting landlords with potential pop-up businesses. She told the New-Observer, "I think it is a wonderful vehicle for small businesses to use to build their business and sample their business, meet consumers that want to be long-term customers.”

Storefront says you can learn a lot from successful pop-ups such as artisan chocolatier TCHO, Men’s custom clothier J.Hilburn, Mobile fashion truck TopShelf, Sahalandy, Northern Grade menswear line, Seapony Couture accessories and Little Vida children’s apparel pop-up has activities for the kids, like face painting and games.

Even singer Drake had a pop-up store in Houston this month, while Kanye West chose to open his pop-up shops in LA Toronto, London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Singapore, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Cape Town, among the others.

The pop-up Bonobos has an interesting story. Bonobos was started by two Stanford business grads in 2007 who were simply selling what they consider a “perfect” pair of khakis. They expanded to become an e-commerce heavyweight with several men’s products lines. Despite the company's online success, CEO Andy Dunn wanted to experiment with a physical retail space after customer requests to try on items. So he posted two sales representatives in the lobby of their office showcasing products. These 2 sales reps generating more than $250,000 in sales each.

Bonobos decided the answer to the "online vs. offline conundrum" was the GuideShop, a place where prospective customers could make an appointment, try on their merch, then place an order online. Today the company has 27 locations across the U.S. where they deliver an integrated bricks and clicks shopping experience. And to take their story full circle, Bonobos is now also sold at Nordstrom. They went from selling via cardboard box, to little box, to big box. 

J. Hilburn also has a unique retail concept for mens clothing. Currently they have 3,000 stylists all over the country who are trained to measure men for clothing such as custom shirts and made-to-measure suits. J. Hilburn is opening their first style guide studio later this month where men can go get measured, look through swatch books for ideas and also try on ready to wear items. Right now they have a New York Showroom and a Dallas Style Lab. Online J Hilburn also offers T.A.P.E. (Tailored Anthropometric Estimate) that is 6 questions to estimate your perfect fit.

Also, the closing of big box stores makes room for, not just pop-ups, but concept stores who give a more customized shopping experience with their thoughtfully selected products.

Traditional retail stores had buyers that went to market to get products for their store. With the onset of concept stores, there are no buyers, but rather curators to select product with a discerning eye. It’s less about wholesale shopping and more about viewing the concept store as a giant work of art, and the curator delicately selects their products.

You can check out concept stores around the world, but in the US there are stores like Tomasi Hill’s Forty Five Ten in Dallas, Fieldshop in Charleston, SC and Cole Haan opens it’s first North American concept store in Dallas. In Philadelphia Lululemon is opening it’s fourth “local concept store” in the US and earlier this year, L’appartement opened it’s Parisian inspired doors in Miami. 

Bricks vs. Clicks

According to Harvard Business Review, the best of both worlds is the way to go. David S. Evans (an economist, business adviser, and entrepreneur) and Richard Schmalensee (Professor of Management and Economics, Emeritus, at MIT) believe that retail stores should blend their brick and mortar retail stores with e-commerce. They agree that the entire retail industry is getting reinvented, and brands will have to learn how to rebrand themselves in the new climate. It’s less of a battle of bricks vs. clicks, and more of a marriage of bricks and clicks. 

Best Retail Shape Shifters

Amazon has been crushing it with online sales and stealing consumer spending from traditional big box stores. Their next step is ironically opening retail stores. 

According to Business Insider, Amazon is opening over 100 stores next year. 

Right now there are 22 Amazon pop-up stores around the US, where consumers can go to learn more about Amazon FreeTime Unlimted, Amazon Original Series, Amazon devices (Echo, Fire TV, Fire Tablets, Dash Button, and Kindle), Amazon Prime and basically Amazon Everything. 

Like Russian nesting dolls, Target has figured out how to fit it’s big box in a smaller box: The retailer operates several so-called flexible urban formats, including CityTarget, which can range from 80,000 to 160,000 square feet, and its newest feat, TargetExpress. At about 20,000 square feet TargetExpress is its smallest store. 


To size things up, the traditional big-box Target stores are an average of about 116,000 square feet, while SuperTargets are approximately 177,000 square feet on average. Over the next 2 years, Target plans to open 19 stores less than 50,000 square feet in size.

Target has followed consumer preferences since it’s inception. Shoppers went from Target to SuperTarget then back to it’s petite palace, CityTarget. When it comes to consumer preferences, they always seem to be, well, on target. 

Caleb Lummer