March 25, 2014
The economy appears to be in far worse shape than the major media outlets would have us believe.
In fact, if you want to see how bad the economy really is, simply visit your local shopping center. There you will find that headlines about a retail tsunami  — as CNBC put it — are accurate.
Unfortunately, it could be just the tip of the iceberg. Recent news stories show that American retail is in a desperate situation and the entire economy is on very shaky ground.
Here are 16 companies that have closed stores or will close stores soon:
- Office supply company Staples has announced plans to close  225 stores by 2015, which is about 15 percent of its chain. Staples already closed 40 stores last year. Industry analysts expect Staples’ main competitor, Office Depot, which bought OfficeMax last year, to announce its own round of store closings soon.
- Radio Shack has announced plans  to close 20 percent of its stores this year, which is as many as 1,100 stores. The company, which operates around 4,000 stores, reported that its sales fell by 19 percent last year.
- Albertsons closed  26 stores in January and February according to Supermarket News. Analysts expect many more Albertsons could soon be shuttered because Albertsons owner hedge fund Cerberus Capital Management just bought Safeway Inc. Some Safeway stores could soon shut down as well.
- Clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch is planning to close  220 stores by the end of 2015. The company is also planning to shut down an entire chain it owns, Gilly Hicks, which has 20 stores, 24/7 Wall Street reported.
- Barnes & Nobles is planning to shut down one third of its stores in the next year: about 218 stores. The chain has already closed its iconic flagship store in New York City.
- J.C. Penney is closing  about 33 stores and laying off about 2,000 employees.
- The Record newspaper in New Jersey reported that Toys R Us has plans to close 100  stores.
- The Sweetbay Supermarket chain will close all  17 of the stores it operates in the Tampa Bay area, The Herald Tribune newspaper reported. Many of the stores might open as Winn-Dixie Stores. Sweetbay closed 33 stores in Florida last year.
- The entire Loehmann’s chain of discount clothing stores in the New York City area shut down . Loehmann’s once operated 39 stores, The New York Times reported, and was considered an institution by generations of New Yorkers.
- Industry analyst John Kernan told CNN that he expects  Sears Holdings, which owns both Sears and Kmart, to close another 500 stores this year. Sears has already shut down its flagship store in Chicago.
- Quiznos has filed  for bankruptcy, USA Today reported, and could close many of its 2,100 stores.
- Sbarro which operates pizza and Italian restaurants in malls, is planning to close  155 locations in the United States and Canada. That means nearly 20 percent of Sbarro’s will close. The chain operates around 800 outlets.
- Ruby Tuesday announced plans to close 30 restaurants in January after its sales fell by 7.8 percent. The chain currently operates around 775 steakhouses across the US.
- An unknown number of Red Lobster stores will be sold. The chain is in such bad shape that the parent company, Darden Restaurants Inc., had to issue a press release stating  that the chain would not close. Instead Darden is planning to spin  Red Lobster off into another company and sell some of its stores.
- Ralph’s, a subsidiary of Kroger, has announced plans to close  15 supermarkets in Southern California within 60 days.
- Safeway closed  72 Dominick’s grocery stores in the Chicago area last year.
The Obama administration may tell Americans the economy is recovering, but the retail industry — and economic data — say something very different.