Retail Store Closures This chart shows the number of major retail store openings and closures in the U.S. announced in 2018 and 2019. Photo: Statista / IBT

The fact that the rise of e-commerce is hurting brick-and-mortar stores in the United States is undisputed. Whether we’re in the middle of the “retail apocalypse” is still up for debate though. While online retail sales rose to more than $500 billion in the United States in 2018, they still accounted for little more than 10 percent of total retail sales, depending on which categories you want to include in that total.

What is true however, is that retail store closures climbed to their highest level in years in 2019, as several retail chains closed hundreds of stores, many of them due to bankruptcy. According to Coresight Research, U.S. retailers had announced 9,275 planned store closures by the last week of December, up from 6,897 the year before. Payless ShoeSource, which filed for bankruptcy in February, closed all of its 2,100 remaining stores in the United States last year, making it the unfortunate number 1 for most closures in 2019. The Ascena Retail Group comes second on the list, having closed 781 stores last year including all of its 650 Dress Barn locations.

While some retailers are struggling to adapt to the changing retail landscape, others see opportunity as illustrated by the fact that for every two closures in 2019, a new store popped up. According to Coresight, 4,454 store openings were announced last year, with dollar and discount stores particularly happy to expand their footprint. Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar were the top three store openers last year with 975, 348 and 202 new locations, respectively, indicating that the retail crisis isn’t too bad as long as you have a “Dollar” in your company name.