In mid-March, as Covid-19 spread through the US, upscale department store Nordstrom announced it would close its stores in the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico to help slow the outbreak. Those stores included all 116 full-line Nordstrom department stores in those regions. Sixteen of those shops, or nearly 14%, will never reopen, the company said on May 5.
It’s not likely to be the last retailer to turn temporary closures into permanent ones. “Nordstrom is probably one of the healthier businesses, at least in the department store channel,” says Doug Stephens, founder of the Retail Prophet consultancy and author of multiple books on retail, including a forthcoming title on business after the pandemic. “If they’re taking that sort of reflective look at their physical footprint, I suspect others will as well.”
Some stores might reopen only to close for good shortly after, as it becomes clear they won’t last. Lord & Taylor is even planning to reopen its 38 department stores just to liquidate inventory in a bankruptcy it’s not expected to survive, according to Reuters.