2018 ended on an optimistic note for retailers with strong consumer spending "data" and what was widely considered to be an unexpected comeback for many brick and mortar stores. While that may have been fun while it lasted, the carnage and pressure on the retail sector has once again been ramped backed up, resulting in a breakneck pace for store closings to start 2019.
In a start to the year that can only be described as absolutely demoralizing for the industry, 5,994 stores have closed in the US so far this year, which is already more than last year's total of 5,864, according to Real Deal and WSJ. And retail sales have begun falling again recently, down 0.2% in February from a month earlier, after being up 0.7% in January. Retail sales fell 1.2% in December.
Mall vacancy rates ticked up in the first quarter to 9.3% from 9% in the fourth quarter of 2018.