As new brands continue to pop up, you may be wondering where your old favorites have disappeared to. Once cornerstones of American retail, these previously popular brands are now navigating challenging market conditions, adapting to new consumer preferences, and competing with the ever-growing influence of online shopping. Let’s explore 17 of them!
Sears, founded in 1892 and once a historic leader in retail with a strong catalog heritage, has been struggling with the rise of e-commerce and declining mall traffic. In recent years, there have been numerous Sears store closures and bankruptcy filings. According to Wikipedia, as of January 2024, there are only 12 stores remaining—down from thousands.
Kmart was once a major player in the discount store segment, selling everything from clothes to toys to tools, but faced tough competition from brands like Target, Walmart, and other online retailers. At its peak, there were 2,323 Kmart stores in the United States. Now, sadly, only two remain.
JCPenney is an American department store chain that has battled numerous challenges over the years, including struggles with modernizing the brand and competition from online retailers. JCP has closed numerous stores and, despite emerging from bankruptcy, has an uphill battle ahead. Recently, the brand went viral thanks to TikTok users visiting the store for photoshoots.
Bed Bath & Beyond
Known for its extensive range of home goods, the once-successful brand struggled with online competition and changing consumer habits. All physical stores have now closed, although consumers can still order online. According to Business Insider, “A failed foray into in-house brands and leaner inventories, exacerbated by pandemic-era shocks, sent the iconic brand into a tailspin.”
Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble is the largest brick-and-mortar bookstore chain in the United States but has been struggling with competition from digital booksellers and online giants like Amazon. The 2010s were difficult for the chain, but it has been recovering since the pandemic. Of late, the brand has been focusing on the community and events to draw in customers.
Gap is an iconic clothing retailer known for its denim and basics. The brand has been around since 1969, but sales have been declining for years amid strong competition and brand perception issues. As reported by CNN, Gap said that 30% of its stores would be closing in the U.S. by 2024.
Once dominating the lingerie market, Victoria’s Secret was hugely popular in the 2010s but has since faced immense criticism over its marketing strategies and experienced a loss of sales due to changing consumer preferences. The brand is currently undergoing a major rebranding effort in a bid to regain its former success.
Office Depot, a key player in office supplies, furniture, and technology, has experienced a decline in sales over the years. The rise of remote working and strong online competition have resulted in Office Depot closing several stores and placing more focus on digital platforms as part of a restructuring plan.
A leading health and wellness brand, GNC once had 8,400 locations—6,200 of which were in the United States. After numerous closures and filing for bankruptcy, it now has 2,336, according to ScrapeHero. The company has struggled with online competition and changing consumer trends.
As you may well be aware, GameStop was a popular video game and electronics retailer, unfortunately impacted by the rise of digital gaming and direct downloads. The brand has recently gained attention due to stock market volatility. As reported by Invezz, the company’s stock has “dropped by over 80% from the pandemic-era high.”
Staples, founded in 1986, is an office supply chain facing stiff competition from online retailers and struggling to maintain relevance in a digital-first world. The company has closed several stores and undergone a rebrand in an attempt to stay afloat.
The high-end department store, Neiman Marcus, is known for its luxury brands but has struggled for the last few years to stay relevant as consumers increasingly bypass department stores to purchase directly. The brand declared bankruptcy in 2020 but has since emerged with a lighter debt load, according to Bloomberg.
The Children’s Place
This brand specializes in children’s apparel and accessories and was founded in 1969. It was once very popular but has experienced a decrease in net sales, battling with online competition and shifting consumer shopping habits. It has unfortunately had to close several stores as part of a broader strategic realignment.
Pier 1 Imports
Pier 1 Imports sells unique home decor and furnishings but has struggled with declining sales and an inability to compete with online home goods retailers. The brand filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February 2020 and, in October of the same year, closed its remaining physical stores. It now operates online only.
This iconic department store has a rich history with humble beginnings, first founded in 1858. In 2020, however, the company announced a massive multi-year operations overhaul that involved store closures and layoffs. Macy’s has suffered from reduced foot traffic and increased competition from e-commerce.
Bath & Body Works, Inc
Formerly known as L Brands, the parent company of Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret, this company has struggled with changing consumer tastes and market trends. In 2021, the brand decided to spin off Victoria’s Secret as its own company and then changed its name to what it is now known as. The brand is undergoing structural changes and repositioning.
For those who don’t know, Express is a fashion retailer targeting young adults. Over the years, it has faced difficulties with changing fashion trends and competition. In October 2023, the brand stated that it may need to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing the COVID-19 pandemic and declining store sales as a reason.
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