‘The US banking system is sound…’

Well, not really.

As William Engdahl notes at Global Research in Canada, "behind the reassuring statements from Paulson and others that the "worst is over" the reality of the credit collapse since August 2007 is a deepening economic contraction."

Now, I am not in the camp that believes this will surpass the Great Depression of the 1929-1938 period. But I will note that the increasing number US department retail store closures is a bit disconcerting. Considering that consumer spending is over 70% of the US GDP, this is particularly worrisome.

Note the scale of the following store closings across America in recent weeks:

Ann Taylor closing 117 stores nationwide

Bombay Company: to close all 384 U.S.-based Bombay Company stores. 

Cache, a women’s retailer is closing 20 to 23 stores this year


Disney Store owner has the right to close 98 stores. 

Dillard’s Inc. will close another six stores this year.

Eddie Bauer to close more stores after closing 27 stores in the first quarter

Ethan Allen Interiors: plans to close 12 of 300 stores to cut costs. 

Foot Locker to close 140 stores 

Gap Inc. closing 85 stores

Home Depot store closings 15 of them amid
a slumping US economy and housing market. The move will affect 1,300
employees. It is the first time the world’s largest home improvement
store chain has ever closed a flagship store.

J. C. Penney, Lowe’s and Office Depot are all scaling back

Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, Catherines closing 150 stores nationwide

Levitz – the furniture retailer,
announced it was going out of business and closing all 76 of its stores
in December. The retailer dates back to 1910. 

Macy’s – 9 stores closed

Movie Gallery – video rental company plans to close 400 of 3,500 Movie Gallery and Hollywood Video stores in addition to the 520 locations the video rental chain closed last fall as part of bankruptcy. 

Pacific Sunwear – 153 Demo stores closing

Pep Boys – 33 stores of auto parts supplier closing

Sprint Nextel – 125 retail locations to close with 4,000 employees following 5,000 layoffs last year

Talbots, J. Jill closing stores. Talbots
will close all 78 of its kids and men’s stores plus another 22
underperforming stores. The 22 stores will be a mix of Talbots women’s
and J. Jill 

Wickes Furniture is going out of business
and closing all of its stores. The 37-year-old retailer that targets
middle-income customers, filed for bankruptcy protection last month. 

Wilsons the Leather Experts – closing 158 stores

Zales, Piercing Pagoda plans to close 82 stores by July 31 followed by closing another 23 underperforming stores.

I know Linens & Things just went belly up, and Steve & Barrys recently filed for bankruptcy protection and sale.

Did we miss any others?

Use the comments, and I will add them to the master list . . . .



The Real State of the US Economy: Henry Paulson has lost the control over US finance
William F. Engdahl
GlobalResearch, August 2, 2008

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. BustaMove commented on Aug 5

    Starbucks closing 600 stores

  2. Mark commented on Aug 5

    Bennigan’s I believed filed bankrupcy.

  3. BP commented on Aug 5

    Is there an EFT that I could use to short either the REITS that lease to the retailers above?


  4. patient renter commented on Aug 5

    Mervyn’s just filed. We’ll see what happens to their stores.

  5. patient renter commented on Aug 5

    Another that just filed, Boscov’s department store.

  6. Mark commented on Aug 5

    Mervyns has also filed.

  7. Jason commented on Aug 5

    The ubiquitous coffee retailer announced it’s closing about 600 of its U.S. stores, beginning this month. The swath of shuttered windows will chop away 5.5 percent of Starbucks’ domestic fleet, 44 states (and one capital) will be left with a venti-sized void, and an estimated 12,000 people will lose their jobs.

  8. Money Miscief commented on Aug 5

    Boscovs (a 97 year old department store chain in the Northeast and Midwest) just declared Chapter 11 and is closing at least 11 stores.

  9. amrk commented on Aug 5

    I was going to say Bennigans… put the list in alpha order, tho, so it’s easier to see what’s been thought of.


    BR: Done!

  10. Mark E Hoffer commented on Aug 5

    “According to indexuniverse.com, 204 ETFs or ETNs have total net assets of less than $10 million apiece, and 369 have under $50 million in assets. That is troubling, since a fund smaller than $50 million probably loses money for the firm that sponsors it.

    In other words, nearly half of all ETFs are too small to survive. The question is not whether, but when, most of them will fail.

    To shut down, an ETF can liquidate, selling its portfolio and giving investors their money back at net asset value. (That can give you a tax headache, since you may get a capital gain you could otherwise have deferred.) Or the fund could merge with another, typically larger, ETF. Within three days, your brokerage account should have the cash proceeds from liquidation — or, in the case of a merger, an equivalent dollar amount of shares in another ETF.

    So far this year, 25 ETFs have shut down. All distributed their full net asset value to shareholders without any glitches (or commission charges).

    Most insiders pooh-pooh the risk that anything could go wrong when ETFs close — an attitude a little too reminiscent, for my taste, of the bland reassurances Wall Street used to give about auction-rate securities.

    I did find one person who was candid. Nicholas Gerber, head of the Ameristock funds, closed five small ETFs in June (triggering some short-term capital gains). “We were able to liquidate our portfolios in 15 minutes,” says Mr. Gerber. But the Ameristock ETFs specialized in Treasury bonds. “If an ETF’s investing in illiquid securities and has to liquidate in distressed markets,” warns Mr. Gerber, “it will have the same problems as a hedge fund” — namely, a slight but real risk that NAV, or net asset value, may turn out to mean not asset value.”…

    Also, The Boscov’s chap.11, ringing, is a bell of a different timbre.

    should give new understanding to what Paulson was really asking for when using the phrase: “Bazooka in my pocket”

  11. Honest Abe commented on Aug 5

    Don’t forget Sharper Image, Pier 1, Foot Locker and Shoe Pavilion.

  12. TH commented on Aug 5

    Barry, any data on i-net retail sales trends? Our family makes significant purchases at some of the companies on this list, but we’ve shifted from in-store to exclusively online. Wondering if online shopping nationally is providing any offset to declining in-store. Thx

  13. MarkTX commented on Aug 5

    The Bennigans and Steak & Ale Restaurants

    owned by Metromedia Restaurant Group (~300+)

    have filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy protection.

    NEW YORK (AP) — Restaurant chains Bennigan’s and Steak & Ale have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection and will shut their doors, LESS THAN TWO MONTHS AFTER THEIR PARENT COMPANY SAID IT WAS NOT PREPARING TO DO SO. (my capitalization)

    -Don’t believe a word they say….

  14. Bruce commented on Aug 5


    You think the two weeks of olympics will give people more of a reason to stay home and watch TV this month? If you are a chain like Ruby Tuesday, do you think this could add additional pressure on your bottom line?

    …just wonderin’

    Bruce in Tennessee

  15. biznotice commented on Aug 5

    Rag shop went out of business and Cold Stone Creamery is either out of business or closing stores

  16. Bob Stillman commented on Aug 5

    Doubt it, but the sports bars might get a boost.

  17. Michael Donnelly commented on Aug 5


    Howard Davidowitz a retailing expert says 4,500 retailers closed their doors in 2007 and 7,000 will do so in 2008.

    For anyone interested in this subject the NPR Podcast link is a must. Howard is a REAL New Yorker and fun to listen to.

    My chart (see link) shows 2,900 stores that have closed. I’ll update it with stuff from this post. but I’ve got to give a h/t to Crooks & Liars as well where I saw this earlier today

  18. gregh commented on Aug 5

    RetailTraffic mag jun 25th:
    1st quarter 07:
    apparel chains 38 percent of all closures, The home entertainment sector, 30.6 percent
    Non-classified retail (chains including Rent-A-Center, which specializes in rent-to-own furniture, electronics and appliances), ranked third, followed by jewelers

  19. Chris commented on Aug 5

    Almost all the companies on this list have one other thing in common; they’re poorly run.

  20. fallon commented on Aug 5

    We were out walking a trending part of NW Portland. Most all stores (local and national) were closed earlier than last summer.

    Most all restaurants were basically empty.

    This was 8pm on a Friday with beautiful weather.

    A sign of the times if haute urban retail is slowing way way down.

  21. SunnySeattle commented on Aug 5

    It would be interesting to map the closing stores and see if there’s any correlation with distance from metropolitan areas. I’ve read that the housing bust is particularly pronounced in areas that involve a lot of driving to get to and from jobs. I wonder if the store closing phenomenon is also gas price related.

  22. bdg123 commented on Aug 5

    Your original forecast back in 2005 still holds – maybe deeper. You were just too early.

    What most people fail to realize is how Wall Street (And people like Hank Paulson) created this crisis, and what that means for Wall Street. The center of the U.S. crisis lies on Wall Street. What this means for the financial industry is still not being discussed. We are going to see a haircut in the finance industry comparable to 1929.

  23. DavidB commented on Aug 5

    They could close the entire mall a few blocks away and the only thing people would miss is the Walmart. The 25 people that patronize all the other stores would find another mall ten minutes from here

    I tell you, if I ever want peace and quiet I just go sit in that parking lot

  24. Al Czervic commented on Aug 5

    If you were desparate enough for a job and willing to work for peanuts, it seemed you could always at least find something in retail. If that’s no longer the case, it’s probably not good.

  25. Mike in NOLa commented on Aug 5

    BP: SRS is ultrashort DJ Real Estate. Researched and found it was mainly REITs making up the index. Leftback got me to buy some. Unfortunately, each lot was priced higher than the price today, although not hugely. The bright side is that it’s all time low was in the mid-80’s so there’s little downside and lots of upside potential.


    I think we don’t yet know how close we will get to 1929, or whether we will surpass it. While Ben has shown remarkable adroitness is staving off a collapse, he and Paulson are doing so only at the cost of a much bigger deficit. At least in 1929, we had huge gold reserves and were not a debtor nation.

  26. Mike in NOLa commented on Aug 5

    Mark Hoffer: Thanks for the info on small ETF’s. I did not know that, although I have instinctively limited my ETF purchases to funds with over $100 Million just because of liquidity concerns.

  27. Michael Donnelly commented on Aug 5

    Ok from my link above you’ve missed the following

    Charming Shoppes 100 stores

    Freidman Inc 350 stores

    Kirkland Home Decor 100 stores

    Lines N THings 590 stores

    Pier One Imports 100 stores

    Sharper Image 96 stores

    The Children’s Place 98 Stores

    Stores on the “Watch” list
    Circuit City
    Fortunoff (in bankrupcy)

  28. bluestatedon commented on Aug 5

    It’s telling that against this craptacular retail environment (esp. what it implies about discretionary consumer spending, the backbone of the economy) the market is skyrocketing up today because the Fed did nothing and oil is down.

  29. Steve Dallas commented on Aug 5

    To be fair we should have a list of new stores opening to contrast all the closings.

    Just got back from lunch at Portilos in suburban Chicago. They have everthing from hotdogs to ribs. Place was absolutely jammed. 4 people taking orders at curside.

    Seems like this is a time to buy some of these comsumer stocks. The ones that can weather the storm: Wallmart, Sears.

    Seems like the airlines will come out of this with a real business model for once: full planes (cutting of routes), fuel efficient plane, lower costs, higher revenue (tickets and fees). I just don’t have a pair big enough to buy an airline stock.

  30. Marc commented on Aug 5

    Hey Barry,

    On a whim I checked one of your store chains (Gap Inc.) and they show a net zero of store opening/closings as of May 3rd, 2008. Where did you get your numbers from and are those numbers just store closings or net opening/closings?


  31. Steve Dallas commented on Aug 5

    Vanguard REIT ETF up 4.5% today !!!!!

  32. jkiss commented on Aug 5

    US airlines are not buying new, fuel efficient planes, all they are doing is sidelining their most inefficient planes… since all are fairly old, fuel savings are modest.

  33. Jojo commented on Aug 5

    What is the URL for this “master list” that you mention Barry?

    Also, is there a list somewhere for bankruptcy declarations by month and year?

  34. BVF commented on Aug 5

    Who shops retail anyway? These companies are closing stores or going out of business because their economic viability has been reduced significantly. Their prices for the most part are ridiculous compared to what you can get online.


    Maybe I’ll buy some shorts or shirts at the store, but for the majority of purchases, I’m on the web. This is particularly true of specialty purchases, where one can get a MUCH better price online. It’s more fun and quicker to shop, plus you save money. Ebay and online retailers are where it’s at if you want to save money… Retail is where it’s at if you want to blow money.

  35. George commented on Aug 5

    Tower Records is another. My favorite store bit the dust.

  36. Winston Munn commented on Aug 5

    Here are a few you missed.

    Banks ‘n Builders
    House O’Leverage

  37. BobC commented on Aug 5

    I browsed the Global Research site and find it hard to accept most of their “research”. It seems one step away from a refuge for over the top conspiracy theorists. Their stark depictions of “America as tyrant” are very difficult to swallow. One thing holders of such viewpoints forget is that if the U.S. acts so nefariously and without conscience, then it is most assuredly true that other power brokers in this world act in a similar fashion. If their world view is true then we may as well as pack up and head for the hills for doom is upon us.

  38. cdresearch commented on Aug 5

    You missed Mervyn’s – they filed bankruptcy just recently.

  39. alex commented on Aug 5

    Goody’s Clothing in Tenn. ch 11 closing around 70 stores or 20%, the NY office and a distribution center in Arkansas. They won’t make it.. business was ok in June/July but now that the only thing in the mail is bills and not govt. checks it will finish off a few more retailers and Goody’s will be one of them.

  40. Sean Carmody commented on Aug 5

    Exact number of Starbucks closures in the US is 616 (link to source here.

  41. Mark E Hoffer commented on Aug 6

    “Thanks for the info on small ETF’s. I did not know that, although I have instinctively limited my ETF purchases to funds with over $100 Million just because of liquidity concerns.”
    Posted by: Mike in NOLa | Aug 5, 2008 3:09:29 PM


    certainly no problem, they, ETFs, are amazingly similiar to MutualFunds, at least, in as much, as they help fuel the Fountain of Perpetual Bid

  42. Jojo commented on Aug 7

    @Michael, re: master list

    Typepad here truncates long URL’s. Can you run the URL through Tinyurl or some such?

  43. Jojo commented on Aug 8

    Never mind about the URL for the master list Michael.

    The URL link problem and Typepad seems to be something related to Firefox. If I copy your post to the clipboard, I can see the full URL. Or if I view the thread in IE, the full URL wraps properly and is completely visible.

  44. Uber commented on Aug 8

    In Europe, Metro AG (Germany’s largest retailer) is closing 27 Real hypermarkets by 2010 and selling off Adler fashion chain.
    Back in Jan, Heartland Automotive (a Jiffy Lube franchisee) filed Chapter 11. They have 438 locations; assets are worth $334mm with debt almost $400mm. Interesting because they are doing okay, but debt escalated when they were bought our by a private equity outfit (Quadrangle, former Lazard wunderkind Steve Rattner’s shop).

  45. L’Emmerdeur commented on Aug 12

    Whitehall Jewelers is going Chapter 7. That’s 373 stores in around 39 states.


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