A few weeks ago, I wrote about the bankruptcy of Borders Bookstores and the repercussions it could have.
Add in Blockbuster and Tower records and collectively the retail industry for music, movies, and books is disappearing. Well, you might be able to add clothing stores to that list.
A rash of closings here in Orange County, CA, (the OC) has the entire industry on edge. Some say that “so goes Southern California, so goes the industry,” and if that is true then trouble is brewing.
One of the largest and most popular outdoor shopping malls, The Block, is shaking things up. Even though they are ideally located between Disneyland, Anaheim Stadium, and three intersecting freeways, they can’t keep the stores full. In response they are changing their focus and name, now called the The Outlets.
Does this mean that retail is going “off-price”?
The big box stores are in huge slumps. Mervyns is bankrupt and Sears is on the verge, closing all of it’s stores in California. There are many others already gone that most of us have trouble remembering (Linens ‘N’ Things, Circuit City). Guess what is replacing them…gyms. A whole lot of them.
Are gyms the new retail?
Say hello to 6 new gyms in OC shopping centers from LA Fitness, Gold’s Gym, and 24-Hour Fitness. They are taking up space formerly occupied by Gap, Nike, Tower Records, Bristol Farms (supermarket), Mervyns, Circuit City, and Linens ‘N’ Things.
Good for the healthy person inside of us!
Another trend to think about is the Chinese exportation of cheap clothes. Retailers like Forever 21 are booming with four new massive stores in the OC (all occupying those empty department stores).
Take a look at the “Made in…” label and notice how much of your outfit is Made in China.
So far the only response to this Chinese competition are the outlets stores mentioned above and perhaps, double secondhand stores. Ross, “Dress for Less”, is opening a discount store for discount stores.
Is new no longer cool?
For me it is. Long ago I ditched all the retail stores for the high-end thrift stores like Buffalo Exchange. They carry a wide range of sizes (you mean not everyone is a medium or large) and an even wider range of styles. I definitely hope to see more of these stores popping up.
That may happen as another 500 day recession for clothing retailers is starting. Retail is not out of the woods yet. We will see who survives until early 2013.