While industry executives and shoppers will remember 2008 as the year the party ended, figure 2009 to be the year of the hangover. Already, Circuit City, Linens 'N Things and Mervyn's stores are going away. Sharper Image is too, though the company will continue to sell some of its high-end gadgets through license agreements with other retailers.
Expect closings and bankruptcies to rattle the likes of Lane Bryant, Gap, and Starbucks. It's the inevitable counterpunch to the days of retailers fighting hand over fist for market share during an era of loose credit and minuscule interest rates.
Retailers at risk in 2009, [Howard Davidowitz, chairman of retail consultant and investment bank Davidowitz & Associates,] thinks, include outerwear specialist Eddie Bauer and teen-apparel-seller Pacific Sunwear, along with Zales, the big jewelry chain. All three shuttered at least 8% of their U.S. stores last year, with many more closings expected. The same is largely true of Charming Shoppes, the owner of Lane Bryant, which closed 150 stores last year. With a mountain of debt and losses totaling over $260 million over the most recent 12-month reporting period, the company will close another 100 locations this year.
Another possible casualty: Sears Holdings, operator of Sears and Kmart stores. A key to hedge fund manager Eddie Lampert's 2005 merger of the two chains was in the underlying real estate. But with those values down 30% or so since then, slumping sales hit even worse.
Yippee. And I see the company for which I work is mentioned in the article....