If your local mall or shopping plaza feels a little emptier this Black Friday compared with a year ago, it’s not just because more people are shopping online. There are also simply fewer brick-and-mortar retail stores.
So far in 2017, major retailers have closed or announced plans to shutter 6,879 stores nationwide, according to figures released Friday by industry think tank Fung Global Retail & Technology.
That is the highest total since at least 2000, according to figures tracked by financial services company Credit Suisse.
The previous record was the 6,163 retail store closures in 2008 during the Great Recession.
The dire picture this year is dramatically different from just a year ago.
In 2016, only about 2,100 retail closures were announced, and that figure was actually offset by a higher number of store openings — about 2,300.
But this year, the number of announced closings is already more than triple last year’s total, and those closings aren’t being offset by openings or expansions from other brands. Only about 3,400 openings have been announced this year, less than half the total number of closures.
The list of retailers who opened new stores this year is dominated by a pair of discount-specialty rivals: Dollar General and Dollar Tree.
But just because brick-and-mortar stores are closing doesn’t mean US consumers have stopped shopping and spending. Retail sales have actually risen steadily since the depths of the recession in April 2009 and are now at a record high, Census data show.
More and more, though, this shopping is happening online. This year, an annual National Retail Federation consumer survey found for the first time ever that more people plan to do their holiday shopping online than in the real world.
The survey found 59 percent said they plan to shop online for the holidays in 2017, up from 56.5 percent last year. That total tops the percent of shoppers who say they will go to a department store (57 percent), discount store (54 percent), and supermarket (46 percent).