Victoria's Secret, Bath & Body Works closing stores in Canada, U.S. as retailers struggle
TORONTO -- The parent company of Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works says hundreds of locations in Canada and the U.S. are permanently closing as retailers struggle to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday, L Brands announced that approximately 250 Victoria's Secret and 51 Bath & Body Works stores will close as part of their go-forward strategy to survive amid falling sales.
The company will reportedly close 13 of its 38 Victoria's Secret stores in Canada with the remaining closures taking place in the U.S. and only one of its Bath & Body Works locations.
L Brands reported their total company sales declined 37 per cent in the first quarter ending May 2. Almost all of their stores have been closed since March 17 in response to the pandemic.
The announcement came a day after the U.S. retail chain Pier 1 revealed they are going out of business and closing all 540 of its stores in the U.S. and Canada.
L Brands' plan to close stores is just the latest sign of the devastating toll the health emergency is taking on retailers around the world.
Earlier this month, the Canadian footwear retailer Aldo and the Canadian fashion chain Reitmans both filed for creditor protection and went into restructuring.
Other established brands have taken a hit too, such as Neiman Marcus and J. Crew, both of which filed for bankruptcy in early May.
Retail consultant Doug Stephens said the COVID-19 pandemic is exposing existing vulnerabilities in businesses.
"Much as it does with human beings, it finds pre-existing conditions or underlying ailments in companies as well," he told CTV's Your Morning on Thursday. "Some of those may be that a company is carrying too much debt, that they're too reliant perhaps on physical stores, or in some cases, it's just brands that have had trouble sort of finding their positioning for years."
As many physical stores remain shuttered and consumers' shopping habits change amid the pandemic, Stephens said he expects more companies to follow suit.
"I think that as this crisis progresses and as brands come under the stress of this crisis as it protracts, I think we are going to see more brands follow suit," he said.