For some retailers, it was as if they had been preparing for a contingency like the pandemic for years. Retailers such as Walmart and Target shone during the global health crisis, and their essential retailer status allowed them to reap the benefits of the scale and sophistication of their operations. Other retailers, largely mall-based, had been in a downward spiral for years, and the coronavirus pandemic and its attendant shutdowns and restrictions sent some into bankruptcy. The year 2020 set a record for retail store closures, which totaled 12,200, compared to 10,000 in 2019, as well as for corporate bankruptcies.
But even successful companies have put the brakes on store fleet expansion plans. Old Navy and Ulta Beauty, for example, are both recovering well from the shutdowns and still plan to open hundreds more stores in the coming year but are now giving themselves more time to do so.