U.S. Fashion Retailers That Are Totally Failing to Attract Customers

Many stores and restaurant chains are circling the drain due to changing trends and companies like Amazon. Fashion retailers in particular are making last-ditch efforts to lure customers back. But only the adaptable will survive. These 20 fashion retailers are desperately trying to attract customers. Even one of the most iconic American department store is struggling to survive (page 10).

1. Payless

Payless shoe store

The chain is struggling to stay afloat. | tupungato/iStock/Getty Images

By the numbers: The budget-friendly shoe chain closed 673 stores.

Private equity firms Golden Gate Capital and Blum Capital purchased Payless in 2012 with hopes of turning things around. But after filing for bankruptcy in 2017, the shoe store is searching for a new leader to help them find creative solutions. Its failure to keep up with online retailers like Zappos and Amazon has the Kansas-based retailer facing an uncertain future, to say the least.

Next: Every day matters for this failing retailer.

2. JCPenney

JC Penney Stock Plunges After Poor Q1 Earnings Report

The retailer is operating at a huge loss. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

By the numbers: Closed 138 stores (14% of locations) by summer 2017.

JCPenney is going, going, and will likely be gone soon. Although the retailer shed excess weight, things haven’t improved. By the third quarter of 2017, JCPenney reported an adjusted net loss of $2.81 billion in revenues, even with major liquidation sales drawing back some customers.

Although competition from online retailers cause problems for the retailer, a change to its pricing strategy many years ago has definitely not helped. Replacing coupon sales with “everyday low prices” turned off many shoppers.

Next: Outdoor apparel saturates the retail market.

3. Eddie Bauer

Eddie Bauer

A drive to stay competitive will be its downfall. | Tim Boyle/Getty Images

By the numbers: Heavy debt has this retailer looking for a buyer.

The outdoor clothing retailer known for heavy-duty flannels and durable jackets is trying to crawl out of debt. A 2014 attempt to find a buyer flopped after prospective buyer Jos. A Banks cancelled the deal and was acquired by competitor Men’s Warehouse. Eddie Bauer hired an adviser to slash debt and try again.

Sadly, things haven’t improved as the company is “seeking relief from a $225 million term loan due in 2020 and $200 million revolving credit line that comes due in 2019,” according to RetailDive.

Next: This high-end department store has low sales.

4. Neiman Marcus

Neiman Marcus

The store is facing major debt. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

By the numbers: Closed 10 of its off-price Last Call Stores ot adapting to online competitors

Iconic retailer Neiman Marcus failed its first attempt to sell the company in 2017, facing massive debt as a result. CEO Karen Katz blames the decline in sales on shoppers becoming “far less loyal,” thanks to internet shopping and price comparisons. To be fair, it’s not the only retailer struggling to keep customers, but failure to compete in the online market won’t help attract new buyers moving forward.

Next: This retailer is falling into the debt gap.

5. Gap

Gap Store

Gap is working to get back in the game. | Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images

By the numbers: 200 Gap and Banana Republic Stores scheduled to close by 2019.

Shoppers everywhere have turned their backs on Gap, as it hasn’t posted winning sales numbers in years. Many say the company — owner of Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, and Athleta — is struggling to define what Gap stands for. But the retailer’s leaders swear they are far from dead due to Old Navy and Athleta’s success. The company will add 270 of those stores in the next three years.

Next: Crocs faces declining stock.

6. Crocs

Crocs store

Not even Mario Batali can save them. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

By the numbers: Closing 160 stores by the end of 2018.

More shoes, more problems for this shoe retailer famous for its plastic clogs. In addition to store closures, the company will cut operational costs and narrow down its product scope as it restructures. Forbes notes Crocs is fighting a losing battle against athletic trends. The retailer has battled claims that their clog shoe is actually bad for the wearer’s health.

Next: This preppy brand did the exact opposite of what customers wanted.

7. J.Crew

J. Crew

J.Crew’s rebrand did not go well. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

By the numbers: The company has about $2.1 billion in debt.

J.Crew took a risk that didn’t pay off. An unfortunate rebrand from trendy and affordable to high-end and uninspired left customers confused and uninterested. Add a multitude of C-suite shakeups, including losing the head designer and seasoned CEO, and it’s clear why J.Crew is struggling to stay afloat.

Next: This retail giant used to be on top of the world.

8. Kmart

kmart store

Kmart has been struggling for years. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

By the numbers: Closed more than 200 stores before the end of 2017.

Online retailers like Amazon are killing business for many retailers, including this struggling company. The company, which reported a second-quarter loss of $251 million in sales, had nearly 3,400 stores in 2007. Now it’s focusing on opening smaller stores with specialties in addition to its 1,400 leftover retail locations.

Next: Not even Michael Jordan can save this brand from its troubles.

9. Nike

Nike To Lay Off 2 Percent Of Global Workforce Amid Drop In Sales

The competition with Adidas is hitting them hard. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

By the numbers: The company’s shares ranked as the worst-performing Dow stock of 2016

Although Nike’s international sales are doing fine (China sales rose 9%), North America makes up 40% of Nike’s sales, and its under-performance in the North American market could spell trouble. Adidas is on the up-and-up as it surpassed Nike’s Jumpman 23 Michael Jordan line to become the second-bestselling sneaker brand this fall. Nike faces a couple major hurdles: a struggling apparel industry, crowded athleisure market, and changing sneaker trends.

Next: This company’s slogan should be “way to struggle.”

10. Macy’s

Macys To Slash 7000 Jobs In Order To Cut Costs

People are just not going to department stores like they used to. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

By the numbers: Closed 68 retail locations in 2017.

It’s no secret that the big department stores are hit hardest during the retail apocalypse. Macy’s is closing stores and laying off employees as a result of ongoing profit misfortunes. The Wall Street Journal even reported Macy’s fielded an offer from Hudson’s Bay about a takeover.

But Macy’s won’t go down without a fight. It’s plowing forward, luring wayward customers back into stores with a new, simplified loyalty program allowing shoppers to accumulate points and other discounts depending on how much they spend.

Next: An apparel company losing to competitors

11. Loft

Ann Taylor Loft

They’re losing customers to other stores. | Mario Tama/Getty Images

By the numbers: Closing close to one-quarter of locations in the next two years.

To be specific, pretty much all stores owned by Ascena Retail Group are struggling. The company owns Ann Taylor, Loft, Lane Bryant, and Dress Barn and all its brands have seen better days. Of course, competitor success only makes things worse for the fashion retailers as they continue to lose customer loyalty to stores such as T.J.Maxx and Marshalls. The group is scrounging for rent reductions and looking to close stores nationwide after profits shrunk.

Next: It’s been a tough decade for this retailer.

12. Pacific Sunwear

PacSun store

PacSun is losing to competitors. | Araya Diaz/Getty Images for PacSun

By the numbers: Closed 154 demo stores.

Once a staple in every young person’s California-inspired wardrobe, surfwear retailer PacSun is poised to fade away with the tide after filing for bankruptcy protection in late 2016. Some blame its poor performance in recent years on offering styles similar to those from competitors. Store closings are expected, as the chain hasn’t posted profitable sales figures since 2008, according to The Fashion Law.

Next: Charitable company in trouble

13. Toms Shoes

TOMS shoes

The shoes rely on people’s good will. | Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Amazon

By the numbers: $299 million outstanding debt on a Senior Secured Term Loan due 2020.

Toms relies on its philanthropic campaigns to drive its marketing efforts. For every shoe purchased, another is donated to a child in need — though some speculate how successful those efforts really are. The fact that Moody’s downgraded Toms’ outlook is proof that even socially driven business strategies can’t withstand today’s harsh retail environment.

Next: This retailer’s stores are on the chopping block.

14. Guess

Guess shop in the center of Brussels, Belgium

Guess is stuck in the past. | J2R/iStock/Getty Images

By the numbers: Closed 60 stores in 2017.

Clark says Guess store closures in 2017 put nearly $16 million back in the piggy bank. Almost all of the retailer’s problems lie in the U.S. Net revenues increased by 19% in Europe and 17% in Asia, but declined by 13% in America. The company’s CEO hopes the company can focus on its G by Guess and Guess Factory retail concepts that perform well. But it’s unclear whether customers will still be around by the time the retailer figures it out.

Next: A previous red-carpet retailer destined for failure

15. BCBG


BCBG was left in the 2000s. | Wolterk/iStock/Getty Images

By the numbers: Closed 120 stores in 2017.

Even BCBG, the fashion mainstay that once adorned celebrities such as Kate Winslet, Victoria Beckham, and Alicia Keys, is grasping at straws to remain relevant in today’s fashion world. The company now faces layoffs and store closings. A BCBG spokesman told Bloomberg the retailer would make a sizable shift in selling strategies and focus on e-commerce and branding partnerships to “realign its business to effectively compete in today’s shopping environment.”

Next: Gnarly issues for a surf company

16. Quiksilver

Surfer wearing Quicksilver

The surfing staple is trying to re-brand their legacy. | Matt Cardy/Getty Images

By the numbers: Received a $175 million financing package in 2015 after filing for Chapter 11.

Foot traffic was once an issue for California-based surfwear company Quiksilver, but a turnaround with a new owner and a new name — Boardrider — could help stabilize the business. Boardrider also owns Roxy and DC Shoes. It plans to rebrand these struggling stores to millennials via the hotel and hospitality business.

“It’s a way to showcase our brand and increase the experience we offer our consumers,” Quiksilver President Greg Healy told The Orange County Register. “It’s not only apparel, it also has a food and beverage element and a music element. We want to use it to turn around the business in North America.”

Next: Potential issues for a popular jewelry chain

17. Charming Charlie

Charming Charlie

Rapid expansion caused struggles for Charming Charlie. | Charming Charlie via Facebook

By the numbers: Closing 100 stores

The budget-friendly jewelry chain is soaring over other pricier competitors now that shoppers are becoming more budget-conscious, but that’s precisely Charming Charlie’s problem. Such rapid expansion following its breakout success has prompted the chain to seek credit help to avoid the growing retail sinkhole.

At one point, founder Charlie Chanaratsopon was placed on Forbes’ Americas Richest Entrepreneurs Under 40 list with a net worth of $425 million. But what goes up must come down, and it seems Charming Charlie is preparing for a big drop sometime soon.

Next: No more half-naked models at the mall

18. Abercrombie & Fitch

Abercrombie & Fitch Clothing

Abercrombie & Fitch has been struggling for years. | jetcityimage/iStock/Getty Images

By the numbers: Closed 20% of stores midway through 2017.

Teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch has struggled to attract customers since 2013. In an effort to win back customers with a huge rebrand, A&F will depart from its stores’ nightclub-esque atmosphere, according to Business Insider.

A&F’s saving grace may be the Middle East. Demand for the brand continues in the region’s luxury shopping centers. The company opened six retail locations in Dubai, two in Kuwait, and one in Saudi Arabia. It has plans for more in Oman and Bahrain.

Next: Unfortunately for this higher-end retailer, denim is a fashion don’t.

19. True Religion

True Religion jeans

The retailer is stuck in the early 2000s. | Becky Sapp/Getty Images for MediaPlacement

By the numbers: Closed 27 stores in 2017

Denim retailer True Religion received approval for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2017. This will cut its almost $500 million in debt by 70%. FashionUnited explains True Religion’s downfall best: “As consumer habits have shifted more to online, and customers are going for either fast-fashion brands or high-end luxury goods, an expensive denim brand that doesn’t quite meet the luxury marker has a tough time finding a customer.”

But don’t swap your True Religion jeans for Wrangler just yet. The company hopes to bounce back through e-commerce and targeted brand-awareness campaigns.

Next: Brides don’t want to shop at malls either.

20. Alfred Angelo

Alfred Angelo

They left their brides hanging. | JP Yim/Getty Images for Alfred Angelo

By the numbers: Abruptly shuttered stores nationwide in 2017.

Not one to shy away from bridezillas, all proverbial hell broke loose when Florida-based bridal shop Alfred Angelo unexpectedly shut its doors without making good on its promise to deliver wedding gowns to paying brides. Many were left without their deposits and dresses when the retailer closed up shop and filed for bankruptcy.

But David’s Bridal emerged as the hero, offering a discount to Alfred Angelo brides. However, it’s unclear whether the retailer can make good on its promise as David’s Bridal is also experiencing profit woes, according to Moody’s.

Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.

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Additional reporting by Ali Harrison.