Claire's filed for bankruptcy on March 19. Photo: Justin Sullivan / Getty.

Amid a retail bloodbath last year and the first two months of 2018, the U.S. still has far too many shops, and their numbers need to shrink — 1 out of 5 need to close to reach the historical average, according to Costar, a research firm.

By the numbers: Ryan McCullough, senior real estate economist with Costar, said the U.S. has 18% too much retail space when compared with the historical average.

  • To return to where they should be, U.S. retailers would need to maintain current sales, but close almost 1.6 billion square feet of selling space.
  • "We aren’t predicting that is going to happen, but it does explain why closures are so prevalent today!" McCullough said in an email exchange.
  • In fact, Cushman & Wakefield, the real estate brokerage firm, is forecasting that 12,000 stores will close in the U.S. this year, up 33% from the 9,000 that were shuttered in 2017.

Looking at the trend: David Berliner, a partner with BDO, tells Axios that shopping today requires fewer stores, and that may be a healthy thing for retailers. Prior to Amazonization, the formula for retail sales growth was to build more stores, he said. Now, retailers can grow using a combination of on-line and physical shopping — what the industry calls "omni-channel."

  • "You just need a few stores for returns and to show merchandise," Berliner said.

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Updated 40 mins ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it's too early to say whether next month's elections will be postponed after she announced Tuesday four people had tested positive for COVID-19 after no local cases for 102 days.

Zoom in: NZ's most populous city, Auckland, has gone on lockdown for 72 hours and the rest of the country is under lesser restrictions.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 p.m. ET: 20,188,678 — Total deaths: 738,668 — Total recoveries: 12,452,126Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 p.m. ET: 5,138,850 — Total deaths: 164,480 — Total recoveries: 1,714,960 — Total tests: 63,252,257Map.
  3. States: Georgia reports 137 coronavirus deaths, setting new daily record Florida reports another daily record for deaths.
  4. Health care: Trump administration buys 100 million doses of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine.
  5. Business: Moderna reveals it may not hold patent rights for vaccine.
  6. Sports: Big Ten scraps fall football season.

Voters cast ballots in Minnesota, Georgia, Connecticut, Wisconsin and Vermont

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Primary elections are being held on Tuesday in Minnesota, Georgia, Connecticut, Vermont and Wisconsin.

The big picture: Georgia and Wisconsin both struggled to hold primaries during the coronavirus pandemic, but are doing so again — testing their voting systems ahead of the general election. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) is facing a strong challenger as she fights for her political career. In Georgia, a Republican primary runoff pits a QAnon supporter against a hardline conservative.