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Up to 10,000 retail stores could close this year due to coronavirus pandemic

Online shopping strains retailers and shippers
Online shopping strains retailers and shipper... 08:56

As many as 10,000 U.S. storefronts could disappear by the end of 2021, as consumers increasingly favor the convenience and safety of shopping online during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report.

That would mark a 14% jump in retail industry closures from last year, when a record number of major vendors closed more than 8,700 stores, according to a forecast from Coresight Research, which tracks the sector.

Businesses that sell apparel accounted for the most store closures in 2020. More than 3,000 clothing, footwear and accessories stores were shuttered since the start of the pandemic last year, with Ascena Retail Group, which owns women's workwear brand Ann Taylor and plus-size fashion label Lane Bryant, closing more than 1,100 its store locations — more than any other retailer.

But virtually no category of retail business was spared. Discount home and office retailer Pier 1 Imports filed for bankruptcy in February and closed all 936 of its stores, citing the "profound impact of COVID19."

J. Crew files for bankruptcy 01:06

More retailers are expected to throw in the towel this year, given the persistence of the pandemic and the slow rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. As of January 22, nearly 1,700 retailers have already closed.

7-Eleven has announced it will close 300 stores, while Midwestern chain Family Video is closing its remaining 250 locations, ending its 42-year-old run. Ascena Retail Group will also close 195 brick-and-mortar stores in 2021.

While some retailers are banking on widespread vaccines to encourage shoppers to return to stores, and others may be banking on the latest federal Paycheck Protection Program loans to get them through the winter and spring, many are unlikely to survive, according to Coresight. By contrast, one group of retailers is thriving during the pandemic. Most of the roughly 3,300 stores that retailers opened last year were in the discount-retailer category.

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