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COVID-19

10,000 stores likely to close in 2021, study says, but store openings continue

Kimberly Adams Jan 28, 2021
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Businesses small and large are trying to game out which pandemic changes will be permanent. Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

10,000 stores likely to close in 2021, study says, but store openings continue

Kimberly Adams Jan 28, 2021
Heard on:
Businesses small and large are trying to game out which pandemic changes will be permanent. Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Major retailers are likely to close 10,000 stores this year, according to a report out Thursday from Coresight Research, an increase of 14% from 2020. But at the same time, the company also estimates that more than 4,000 stores will open this year. With the vaccine rollout underway, the new data gives a preview of what the post-pandemic economy might look like.

The types of stores that shut down in the pandemic include lots of footwear, clothing and accessories shops, according to Coresight Research.

The types of retail that opened? Discount outlets like dollar stores. Industries that cater to certain pandemic needs also did all right.

“I believe that housewares category overall in the country has seen tremendous growth from New York to the West Coast,” said Natasha Amott, who runs the kitchen supply store Whisk in New York.

Her business did better than she expected in 2020.

“I’m hopeful that people will keep up their love for cooking and want to spend their money at a store like ours” as restrictions start to lift, she said.

Businesses small and large are trying to game out which pandemic changes will be permanent.

Constance Hunter, chief economist at KPMG, said that, at least for those who are on the upside of the K-shaped recovery, “I do think this pent-up savings is going to lead to higher consumption than we would normally expect once we get to the other side of the pandemic.”

And for businesses that can hold on until then, there could be a business boom.

“By the end of the pandemic, there may be more opportunity and space to grow and innovate,” said Nicole Marquis, who owns Hip City Veg, a chain of fast-casual restaurants around Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. “We’re already looking at three new locations.”

She expects that once people can go out again, those who can spend will spend a lot.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

So what’s up with “Zoom fatigue”?

It’s a real thing. The science backs it up — there’s new research from Stanford University. So why is it that the technology can be so draining? Jeremy Bailenson with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab puts it this way: “It’s like being in an elevator where everyone in the elevator stopped and looked right at us for the entire elevator ride at close-up.” Bailenson said turning off self-view and shrinking down the video window can make interactions feel more natural and less emotionally taxing.

How are Americans spending their money these days?

Economists are predicting that pent-up demand for certain goods and services is going to burst out all over as more people get vaccinated. A lot of people had to drastically change their spending in the pandemic because they lost jobs or had their hours cut. But at the same time, most consumers “are still feeling secure or optimistic about their finances,” according to Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, which regularly surveys shoppers. A lot of people enjoy browsing in stores, especially after months of forced online shopping. And another area expecting a post-pandemic boost: travel.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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