Businesses across the country experienced record-setting holiday sales, but store closures were also rampant.
For many businesses, the close of 2016’s holiday season was a mix of both naughty and nice.
On the good side of things: Total holiday sales rose 3.8 percent to reach $196.1 billion, the highest increase since 2011, according to retail research firm Conlumino. Online sellers dominated with a 17.1 percent increase in sales, while stores saw a 2.6 percent increase.
During the final week before Christmas and the start of Hanukkah, sales at traditional stores went up 6.5 percent from the same week the year before, according to numbers from RetailNext. And despite foot traffic dropping 3.9 percent compared with 2015, there was still a 9.9 percent increase in the average sales transaction.
“This was a fantastic shopping season, but for many department store and apparel retailers, this was a very challenging holiday,” said Steven Barr, U.S. retail and consumer sector leader at PwC. “I anticipate we will see significant numbers of store closures.”
Big department store chains like Macy’s and Sears are among the retailers closing doors in 2017. Macy’s will close about 100 stores, while Sears will close 19. Small businesses have also been susceptible. Three notable retailers shut down recently in San Francisco. Another three small businesses went dark in New Jersey after long runs. In Michigan, the East Lansing Food Co-op will close its doors by February after more than 40 years in business.
According to Barr, stores that act as a “destination” or that offer entertainment to customers during their shopping experience (like an indoor basketball court) are more likely to thrive in the long term.
“The retail store is not dead,” he said. “But the retail store of the past is dead.”