Clothing retailer H&M with 16 GA locations to close 250 stores

GEORGIA – H&M, a low-cost fashion retailer based in Sweden with a strong shopping mall presence in Georgia, said it plans to close up to 250 stores next year due to reduced foot traffic amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement of parent company H&M Group came in a summary of earnings released Thursday.

In September alone, sales fell 5%. H&M currently has 166 stores, or about 3% of its total number of stores, still closed. At the height of the pandemic, about 80% of 5,000 H&M stores worldwide were closed.

Many open stores still have local restrictions and limited opening hours, officials said. For example, many shopping mall stores in Georgia don’t open until 11 a.m. and close an hour or earlier than before the pandemic. More and more customers are shopping online, the report notes.

Even before shops and malls were closed by the coronavirus outbreak, traditional brick-and-mortar establishments were losing revenue and customers to e-commerce giants such as Amazon, Target and Walmart.

“The rapid changes in customer behavior have been accelerated by Covid-19,” according to the findings report. “The H&M group is therefore now further accelerating its transformation work, with digital investments, optimization of the store portfolio and increasingly integrated channels.

H&M officials said about a quarter of its stores have the contractual right to renegotiate or terminate their leases each year and estimate the total of potential closures at 250 stores.

The announcement of certain stores closing was not disclosed in the earnings report.

H&M stores in Georgia include:

  • Arbor Place in Douglasville
  • Atlantic Station in Atlanta
  • Augusta shopping center in Augusta
  • Cumberland Mall in Atlanta
  • Georgia Mall in Buford
  • North Point Shopping Center in Alpharetta
  • Oglethorpe Shopping Center in Savannah
  • Peachtree Shopping Center in Columbus
  • Perimeter Mall in Atlanta
  • Southlake Shopping Center in Morrow
  • Sugarloaf Mills in Lawrenceville
  • Tanger Outlets Commerce in Commerce
  • Stonecrest shopping center in Lithonia
  • The Shoppes at River Crossing in Macon
  • The Shoppes at Webb Gin in Snellville
  • Cobb downtown in Kennesaw

Other chains that are closing some of their stores in Georgia include Gap, Pier 1 Imports, Bed Bath & Beyond, Sears, Kmart, Dressbarn, Papyrus and more.

Pier 1 has closed half of its stores to “better align its activity with the current operating environment”. Eleven stores in Georgia, including two in Atlanta, one in Decatur, one in Marietta and one in Douglasville, were removed from the chain’s website.

The parent company of clothing retailers, including Justice, Lane Bryant, Ann Taylor, LOFT, Catherine’s, Lou & Gray and Cacique, filed for bankruptcy this week. Ascena Retail Group has announced its intention to close approximately half of its 2,800 stores.

Closures in Georgia include 19 Justice stores, the seven Catherine’s stores as well as four others owned by Ascena.

A record 9,300 store closures were announced in 2019, and that number could be even higher in 2020, according to a Business Insider report.

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Anne G. Cash

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