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Dressbarn is Closing all 650 Stores

In the ongoing saga of dying retailers, Dressbarn’s parent company announced last week it will be closing all 650 of its women’s discount clothing stores in the US.

Dressbarn has been a common sight in cities and towns across the country for 57 years. They had stores in 45 of the 50 states. When the company first began in 1962, the goal for founders Roslyn and Elliot Jaffe was to provide working women with fashionable clothes at discount prices. Last week the store’s parent company, Ascena Retail Group Inc., released a letter stating their sadness at closing the store and thanking customers for their support.

Why it’s Closing

Recently, Dressbarn has had to compete with online retailers like Amazon as well as other large retail chains like Target and T.J. Maxx, a battle it has not been winning.

Dressbarn’s chief financial officer, Steven Taylor, addressed questions about the shutdown by saying that the store was not performing at a sustainable level. According to him, “the Dressbarn chain has not been operating at an acceptable level of profitability in today’s retail environment.”

Many suspect that it was the store’s inability to keep up with current fashion and technological trends that led to it losing popularity. Members of Business Insider went in to see a Dressbarn in New York to find that although it had a clean and tidy layout, the clothing was “outdated” and “clunky.”

They also claim that Dressbarn has been losing money since 2014, so it is no surprise that it is now closing down.

Retail Apocolypse

Dressbarn is by no means the only retail store suffering in a polarizing market. Since 2010, mass numbers of brick-and-mortar stores, including large chains, have been closing their doors in North America for good. Reasons include everything from over-expansion of malls to shifting buying habits to fierce competition from stores offering a large variety of items at low costs, like Amazon and Walmart.

In a running tally of American retail closures, Coresight Research reports that over 7,000 retailers have announced they will be closing stores in 2019. Although this is an increase from the 5,854 closures in 2018, it is still less than the 8,000 stores that called it quits in 2017.

However, although other large retailers are also closing certain locations, most are not doing so as dramatically as Dressbarn. Target, for example, will be closing 6 stores this year, while Macy’s will be closing 8.

On the other hand, Dressbarn is not closing nearly as many locations as Payless ShoeSource, which will be closing 2,100 stores in 2019. Payless is yet another a bargain shop that could not stand up to the much heavier discounts offered by online retailers and stores like T.J. Maxx.

What Now?

The 6,800 associates currently working for Dressbarn are slated to receive transition support and information as stores proceed to close throughout the next six to twelve months.

For Ascena Retail Group, closing Dressbarn is allowing them to focus on the quality and growth of their other stores, including Ann Taylor, Lane Bryant and Justice.