May 19, 2020 - Economy

Coronavirus retail apocalypse could be a win for chains that survive

A person walks past a closed store in San Francisco.

A person walks past a closed store in San Francisco. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Retail has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic as bankruptcies and store closures have accelerated, but that is creating opportunities for the companies that survive, especially as a period of surging traffic could be on the way, data firm Placer.ai says.

What they're saying: The much ballyhooed retail apocalypse is poised to benefit budget retail names like Ross and Kohl's that have gained market share in recent years.

  • With major brands like J.C. Penney potentially closing their doors in the spring and more than 3,000 companies announcing store closures already this year, "the treasure hunt appeal and the value orientation could position these brands to thrive."

By the numbers: Placer.ai data shows that Ross saw a visit increase of 8.8% in January and 12.2% in February prior to visits plummeting as stores shuttered.

  • Kohl's saw a similar trend with visits rising 8.7% and 7.6% year-over-year in January and February before taking their pandemic-driven plunge.

The intrigue: "With potential store closings on the horizon on the back of bankruptcy announcements, much of these visits could be up for grabs."

  • 36.8% of Kohl's shoppers and 30.6% of Ross shoppers visited a J.C. Penney during this period.

The big picture: "The combination of very strong performance heading into the crisis, effective positioning for the coming period of economic uncertainty and a weakened competitive landscape may actually set these brands up to thrive in the coming months and years," per Placer.ai.

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