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A report by the Swiss multinational investment bank, UBS has found there were 115,000 shopping centres across the U.S. at the end of 2020, compared with 112,000 in 2010 and 90,000 in 2000. However, UBS has estimated that 80,000 retail stores will shut across the country by 2026. That assumes e-commerce sales rise to represent 27% of total retail sales, up from the current 18%.
The UBS figures include malls, outlets and other lifestyle centres, and has been concluded from analysis of data from the International Council of Shopping Centres. The 80,000 retail stores estimated to close represent 9% of total stores.
Although online sales are on the rise, many businesses are taking advantage of cheaper rents and vacant space, so store openings are currently outpacing closures for the first time in years. U.S. retailers have announced 3,169 store closures and 3,535 store openings in 2021, according to data compiled by Coresight Research. The firm tracked 9,832 closures in 2019, the highest it has seen since it started following the data. That figure fell to 8,741 in 2020.
UBS said the retail industry has been supported recently by the U.S. government stimulus and by consumers shifting their dollars to goods from services, with travel and other entertainment events on pause due to Covid-19. It believes those trends are going to be short-lived, leading to a predicted downturn in retail sales, which will result in an uptick in retail closures.
UBS anticipates the most closures will be found among retailers that sell clothing and accessories in the years ahead. The firm is forecasting about 21,000 closures from this sector by 2026. Office-supplies and sporting-goods businesses are also forecast to be among the hardest hit.
UBS said that closures are anticipated to be the most modest in home improvement, groceries and auto part retailing, as these categories are less susceptible to competition from the rise of e-commerce.