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Retail supports one in four U.S. jobs — 42 million working Americans.
Retail sales grew 3.9 percent in 2017 over 2016 to $3.53 trillion, according to the U.S. Census bureau’s preliminary estimate for the year. The number exceeded NRF’s forecast for growth between 3.2 and 3.8 percent.
“The push and pull of forces both external and internal to the U.S. economy will continue to provide challenges, but on balance we expect a good year,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “And as the retail industry continues to transform, retailers will leverage the new tax plan to invest in their employees, stores and new formats that engage with the ever-evolving and demanding consumer.”
The prediction for increased sales doesn’t mean the “retail apocalypse” will slow down any time soon. More than 12,000 stores are expected to close in 2018 — up from roughly 9,000 in 2017, according to Cushman & Wakefield, a marketing and data analysis firm.
“I think the early part of next year will be pretty bad … I think it will be tough,” Charlie O’Shea, Moody’s lead retail analyst, said.
Some retailers have already filed for bankruptcy, including Bon-Ton Stores Inc. — the parent company of Elder-Beerman. No local stores have been impacted, but one store in Ohio will close. As previously announced, the company is closing 47 stores this year, four of which closed in January and one store that is near completion and 42 additional stores. Store closing sales began on Feb. 1 and will run for approximately 10 to 12 weeks.
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Bon-Ton could also reduce the number of distribution centers from three to two, shutting down its facility in Fairborn.
There are about 15 retailers that are at a higher risk of filing for bankruptcy this year, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. Some of the other major retailers that are at risk include: Bebe Stores Inc., Stein Mart Inc., Sears Holdings, Sun Pacific Holding Corp., and Burlington Stores Inc.