Victoria’s Secret typically closes about 15 stores per year in its normal assessments of which locations are working and which aren’t. This year, the brand says it plans to close roughly 53 stores.
The jump in closings is another sign of the troubles facing the lingerie peddler. When its parent company, L Brands, reported earnings for 2018 yesterday (Feb. 27), it revealed that sales growth was basically flat at Victoria’s Secret for the year. At Victoria’s Secret stores in the US and Canada open at least a year, sales declined 6%, and while the company opened three new Victoria’s Secret stores in the year, it closed 30.
The company is contending with some of the issues hitting brick-and-mortar retail generally, such as declining foot traffic, especially in malls. But it has its own problems too.
The label has faced sharp criticism for sticking to its image of professionally toned supermodels romping around the boudoir at a time when women are responding to size-inclusive brands that celebrate a range of body types. Its outdated look has left it open to competition from body-positive upstarts, such as American Eagle’s Aerie. Some of these brands, including ThirdLove, began because their founders were dissatisfied with Victoria’s Secret.
Now even Target is taking its shot with new sleepwear and lingerie lines. Its marketing campaigns for these lines, the Wall Street Journal reported (paywall), will feature women with an array of body types, ages, and ethnicities.
Victoria’s Secret is still a dominant brand. As of the start of February, it had 1,143 total stores across its main line and Pink sub-label in the US and Canada. But that footprint is shrinking. Brand executives said on a conference call with analysts that they’re looking at every element of the brand to see how they can turn it around.