100,000 retail stores could close by 2025, accelerated by COVID-19, analysts say

Retail stores may take a big hit: 100,000 locations could close by 2025 – a trend accelerated by the COVID-19 outbreak – if more Americans opt for online shopping.

Analysts at Wall Street firm UBS said in a research note this week that the pandemic could alter behaviors, leading more shoppers to continue buying online. Shoppers who do go to stores may not linger, they said.

“Even when stores do open, it may take a while before people will regain their confidence about being safe in crowded places,” UBS analysts Michael Lasser and Jay Sole said in a note to clients.

Clothing, electronics and home furnishings stores would be affected the most if online shopping increased to 25% of retail sales up from its current 15%, according to the investment banking firm. Enclosed malls would be under pressure as stores closed. Based on the number of malls in 2019 and population growth estimates, about 100 malls would close, some of which would probably be redeveloped for other purposes, the analysts said.