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The retail industry, already in peril before the coronavirus pandemic closed stores across the country, could see a record number of store closures in the coming months.
In 2019, companies closed more than 9,000 brick-and-mortar stores. In the three months since the coronavirus hit, multiple national brands including J. Crew, Neiman Marcus and J.C. Penney have filed for bankruptcy and collectively closed hundreds of stores.
Here is a look at companies that have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this year, and have closed stores in Delaware or could do so soon. Companies closing stores in Delaware Microsoft announced last week that it is permanently closing the majority of its retail locations, including the company's lone Delaware store at the Christiana Mall.
Microsoft will keep its retail employees on to serve customers remotely with sales, training and support, the company said in a news release.
"Our sales have grown online as our product portfolio has evolved to largely digital offerings, and our talented team has proven success serving customers beyond any physical location," Microsoft Corporate Vice President David Porter said in the release.
Microsoft had 73 U.S. stores, almost 200 fewer than its main competitor, Apple. The first wave of modern Microsoft stores, which allowed customers to try out Microsoft PCs and tablets, as well as products from third party brands using Windows, opened in 2009.
Delaware's Microsoft store opened with much fanfare three years later. Weezer performed a free 90-minute concert in the Christiana Mall parking lot to celebrate the opening.
"Playing guitar by the side of the road/Just you and me baby here in Delaware/Thank you Microsoft, not Apple," sang Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo.
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After filing for bankruptcy in late May, Tuesday Morning announced that it will be closing 230 stores.
The off-price retailer has named 132 of those stores, which will close this summer. Included in the list is the store on Concord Square at 4431 Concord
Delaware will have two remaining locations; in Hockessin's Lantana Square off Limestone Road and in the Rehoboth Mall off Coastal Highway. At the time of its bankruptcy filing, Tuesday Morning had around 700 stores. GNC filed for bankruptcy last week after being under "financial pressure for the past several years," according to a press release. The retailer, which sells vitamins and supplements among other wellness products, said it will close 800 to 1,200 stores.
In Delaware, GNC locations in the Dover Mall, the Gateway West Shopping Center in Dover off Forrest Avenue and Rockford Shops in Wilmington off North Dupont Street will close.
There are several GNC locations remaining in the First State, including shops in the Christiana and Concord malls. Modell's Sporting Goods announced prior to the coronavirus pandemic that the company would be shutting down all its remaining stores, but the pandemic slowed that process forcing liquidation sales to be delayed.
After more than two months, going-out-of-business sales are now resuming at Modell's stores throughout the region.
Delaware's only Modell's is off Churchmans Road in Center Pointe Plaza near Christiana Hospital. The only remaining national sporting goods chain is Dick's Sporting Goods, which has a store off Center Boulevard South next to Christiana Mall.
Pier 1 Imports was also in financial trouble before the pandemic. By May, the home goods retailer announced plans to permanently close all of its stores, including its three remaining Delaware locations.
Pier 1 Imports began holding liquidation sales with limited store capacity when businesses could reopen in June. The company has stores on Route 1 in Rehoboth Beach, Centre Boulevard near Christiana Mall and Concord Pike in Talleyville.
After filing for bankruptcy in February, Pier 1 closed more than 300 U.S. locations, including a store on U.S. 13 in Dover. At this time last year, Pier 1 operated close to 1,000 stores. Other companies to watch
After filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May, J.C. Penney announced plans to close around 250 stores, roughly a third of its locations.
None of the J.C. Penney stores in Delaware — located in Christiana Mall, the Dover Mall and the Prices Corner shopping center — were included in initial store closing lists. But the company is continuing to struggle, leading some analysts to believe more stores will close.
"I don’t think that J.C. Penney is going to be one of those companies that emerges," said Camilla Yanushevsky, a retail stock analyst for CFRA Research. "At the end of the day, I think they’ll be liquidating their assets to get some cash back to creditors."
At the time of its bankruptcy filing, J.C. Penney had more than $4 billion in debt. One survival plan that has been floated is for a collection of the country's top mall owners to buy the company outright.
CNBC reported that Simon Property Group, the country's largest mall owner and the owner of the Dover Mall, Brookfield Properties, which owns the Christiana Mall, and Authentic Brands Group is in talks to buy J.C. Penney. It's the same coalition that bought mall-based retailer Forever 21 out of bankruptcy in February for $81 million.
The purchase would allow the mall owners to control J.C. Penney's land, giving them the ability to redevelop it as they see fit should the company fold. The land value for J.C. Penney's owned stores is estimated at more than $1 billion, CNBC reported. Macy's department stores in Delaware survived two rounds of store closures in 2020. In January, the retailer closed more than a dozen stores amid slumping sales. Another 125 closures were announced a month later. In Delaware, Macy's is an anchor tenant in the Christiana, Concord and Dover malls.