These U.S. Retailers Are Completely Failing to Attract Customers

Will future generations shop in real stores with actual cash registers? If the number of hurting U.S. retailers is any indication, the answer is no. Shopping malls and traditional stores have struggled since the arrival of Amazon and other e-commerce sites. But other factors are to blame as well.

Attempts to attract customers are failing miserably for these stores, including one entertainment retailer that’s painfully behind the times (page 9) and another that announced it would close all its U.S. stores (page 12).

1. Nike

A customer looks at a new Air Jordan sneaker for sale.

A Nike fan looks at a new Air Jordan IV sneaker during a sale. | Maja Hitij/Getty Images

Biggest blunder: not utilizing athleisure and sneaker trends in a saturated market

The athleisure and sporting apparel industries are booming to the point of saturation, which gives Nike a lot of competition. The iconic company’s international sales show great promise — sales grew 9% in China — but U.S. sales ranked as 2016’s worst-performing stock. With 40% of sales coming from North America, Nike needs to innovate and adapt, especially with its sneaker brands. Consumers are looking online for alternative shoe and apparel brands.

Next: Online sales are killing this sports-driven retailer.

2. Dick’s Sporting Goods

dick's sporting goods entrance

Customers used to flock to Dick’s for sports gear. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

Biggest blunder: not addressing struggling products

It seems like every sporting goods store is struggling. Dick’s Sporting Goods limped into the third quarter of 2017, with its shares dropping about 23% and it’s projected growth slowing to 1%.

This may not seem too alarming, but Dick’s predicts a bigger plunge in sales even as it increases discounts. According to USA Today, “Sales of hunting goods, licensed products and athletic apparel undermined Dick’s during the period, offsetting growth in footwear, golf and online sales.”

Next: This teen retailer is rethinking its risque reputation.

3. Abercrombie & Fitch

Abercrombie & Fitch

The former teen icon has seen better days. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Biggest blunders: not adapting to changing trends and loss of mall traffic

It was once cool to sport the same ripped jeans and popped collars Abercrombie models advertised in every mall nationwide. But like the fashion trend, the store’s brand has fallen by the wayside. Despite its attempts to modernize store layouts and rebrand clothing, profits are way down.

It has been forced to shut down about 60 physical locations in 2017. And some say the company’s website is telling of its failed attempts to remain relevant in the fashion world. Deeply discounted items and outdated clothing are not-so-subtle hints of a near demise.

Next: This brand is going “under.”

4. Under Armour

Under Armour store front in NYC

The store received negative press after comments the CEO made about Donald Trump. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Biggest blunder: saturated athletic market

Under Armour was once a sportswear heavyweight, but its recent profit margins are less than stellar. The brand has closed more than 50 stores because of dramatically slowing sales. It’s predicting dismal growth of only 9% to 11%  for 2017, which is hardly comparable to the success it enjoyed in prior years.

Combine that with the resurgence of other big competitor brands, such as Puma and Adidas, and Under Armour is struggling to compete for consumer preference. Puma’s recent partnerships with younger influencers, including Rihanna and The Weeknd, are also a driving force in Under Armour’s struggle to retain customers.

Next: The reason no one shops at Sears and Kmart

5. Sears and Kmart

going out of business signs

Sears and Kmart are moving online. | Megan Elliott/The Cheat Sheet

Biggest blunder: poor leadership and confusing rewards program

Those accustomed to a Sears or Kmart store full of energetic shoppers looking for a deal now see a desolate parking lot. Today, many Sears and Kmart storefronts — both owned by Sears Holdings — are riddled with giant posters advertising “everything must go” and “all sales final.” The company has already closed approximately 180 Sears and Kmart stores in 2017, with plans to close even more.

But with so few in-demand products available, why would anyone make the trek to a physical location? Sears sold its Craftsman tool business to Stanley Black & Decker and is licensing Kenmore appliances and Diehard auto parts to other retailers.

Next: You’ll have to get your outdoor goods elsewhere.

6. Gander Mountain

Ganger Mtn store front

The sports store has struggled with e-commerce. |

Biggest blunder: e-commerce competition

The sporting goods industry is taking a beating from consumers. Gander Mountain’s inability to compete with e-commerce businesses offering the same products for cheaper prompted it to file for bankruptcy in March 2017 and close 32 of its stores. Only time will tell whether customers will return to Gander Mountain for their outdoor shopping needs now that Camping World is the franchise’s new owner.

Next: Why J.C. Penney could affect the future of malls forever

7. J.C. Penney

JCPenney store front

J.C. Penney has had to close several stores. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Biggest blunder: transitioning from coupon savings to “everyday low prices”

It’s no secret department stores have had a rough go when it comes to attracting customers to their physical stores. J.C. Penney was once the cornerstone of mall success. But recently it announced plans to shut down about 140 of its department stores — nearly 14% of the total store base to “effectively compete against the growing threat of online retailers.”

For its remaining stores, it plans to focus on beauty, home refresh, and special sizes rather than innovative shopping experiences and exclusivity.

Next: How many kitchen gadgets can one retailer sell?

8. Bed Bath & Beyond

Bed Bath & Beyond takes on a new modern look.

Bed Bath & Beyond takes on a new modern look. | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Biggest blunder: not transitioning to digital sales

Analysts and market experts agree that Bed Bath & Beyond needs to focus on younger shoppers. The home goods store saw its stock fall by almost one-third.

As a once-retail giant, Bed Bath & Beyond’s CEO Steven Temares wants to focus on using retail stores as fulfillment centers, offering services such as “reserving an item online and picking it up in-store, returning an online purchase to a store, or scheduling an appointment online to meet with one of our registry consultants in-store.” Time will tell if Bed Bath & Beyond can progress into the digital age of retail.

Next: This once-booming entertainment store won’t face the facts.

9. GameStop

A store manager sells copies of Call of Duty: Ghosts during GameStop's hayday

A store manager sells copies of Call of Duty: Ghosts during GameStop’s heyday. | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Biggest blunder: not adapting to e-commerce

Physical DVDs and video games are a thing of the past. And GameStop can’t seem to get past the transition to digital sales. Critics point out that Blockbuster faced these exact issues a couple years ago — and look how that turned out. GameStop has shuttered more than 100 stores in 2017, and its stock fell more than 30%. Although the video game retailer likely won’t go bankrupt this year, they must adapt or they’ll face a similar future.

Next: An athletics retailer that blames lack of choices for lack of traffic

10. Lululemon

Lululemon athletica storefront

The former CEO landed in hot water after making negative comments about women’s bodies. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Biggest blunder: lack of product versatility

Like Under Armour, athletics retailer Lululemon is poised to post slowing sales growth in 2017. The brand’s CEO Laurent Potdevin blamed the sluggish performance on lack of “depth and color” available for purchase in clothing. But unlike other struggling retailers, Lululemon is pushing forward, opting to open new stores rather than focusing on attracting more customers to existing stores. Whether the risky strategy pays off remains to be seen.

Next: This once-dominant “shack” has seen better days.

11. RadioShack

Radio Shack

The electronics giant is losing out to online competition. | Getty Images

Biggest blunder: not acknowledging the importance of online sales

Consumers enjoyed ultimate convenience during RadioShack’s heyday, as nearly 95% of all American households had a store within three miles of their homes. Today, the retailer has succumbed to closing over 1,000 stores, leaving roughly 70 stores to carry the torch for customers who prefer buying electronics in person rather than online.

Next: This retailer was once the “world’s greatest toy store.”

12. Toys R Us

Shopping at Toys R Us

A Toys-R-Us shopper walks through the aisles. | Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

Biggest blunder: not trying to compete with online retailers

Who needs to visit an actual toy store when Amazon can deliver gifts to your door? Most parents seemed to agree, and Toys R Us suffered the consequences. Fearing they wouldn’t receive payment, vendors began canceling shipments after the toy retailer filed for bankruptcy in September 2017. In March 2018, it was reported that the company would close or sell all 800 of its U.S. stores after it was unable to reach a deal to restructure billions of dollars in debt.

Next: An iconic retailer closing an iconic store

13. Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren Fifth Avenue store

The American brand is closing its store on Fifth Avenue. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Biggest blunder: lack of appeal to younger customers

Even high-end brands aren’t immune to the struggles affecting big department stores. It’s a telltale sign of retail doom when even the glitz and glam that cemented Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue into retail royalty struggles to attract shoppers.

Ralph Lauren is the latest retailer to close its trademark New York storefront on Fifth Avenue. Declining sales, failed attempts at modernizing the brand for younger buyers, and jacked up rent prices on the block all contributed to Ralph Lauren’s decision to close the store. It plans to restructure store formats and streamline operations to win back customers and boost sales in the process.

Next: Why Macy’s is still failing to lure more customers to the store

14. Macy’s

The department store giant was recently surpassed by Amazon. | Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Biggest blunder: failing to adapt to technology and e-commerce

Sales are still lagging Macy’s despite the debut of Macy’s Backstage, pop-up shops offering deeply discounted items. Still, reports say Macy’s has lost sight of what customers really want, allowing Amazon the opportunity to surpass the retailer as the largest supplier of apparel.

Macy’s turnaround strategy includes increasing the number of exclusive items and ramping up its mobile app to improve the in-store shopping experience. And if the Amazon effect isn’t already influencing its rebranding strategy, Macy’s also says it’s working to streamline the process of consumers buying online and picking up in store.

Next: A popular women’s clothing line is on the fence.

15. Ann Taylor (and friends)

Ann Taylor

A retail group bought Ann Taylor in 2015. | Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Biggest blunder: weak brand identity

Ascena Retail Group — the women’s clothing retailer that owns Ann Taylor, Loft, Dress Barn, Lane Bryant, Justice, and more — is planning to close a large portion of its stores. At least 268 stores will close while the remaining 399 could go under if store rental negotiations fail, according to The business-casual retailers are struggling to attract customers as they combat increased competition from discount stores that sell similar clothing for less.

Next: A popular luxury brand that hopes to win back the hearts of its loyal customers

16. Michael Kors

Michael Kors store front

Sales slowed for the company. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Biggest blunder: lack of originality in saturated industry

Luxury brand Michael Kors is another retailer struggling to attract customers. It blamed the 2017 profit loss on a difficult retail environment combined with a “product and store experience did not sufficiently engage and excite consumers.” The company views 2018 as a transition year where it will bring heightened focus on store experience and product innovation to support longevity in a bleak retail environment.

Next: A retailer that tried and failed to win back customers

17. Crocs

Crocs hanging in a store

Stores are shutting down after losing millions of dollars. | Cate Gillon/Getty Images

Biggest blunder: saturated shoe industry

Crocs lost nearly $44.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2016. As a result, the retailer announced plans to shut down almost 160 stores by the end of 2018. The quirky shoe brand has attempted to revitalize consumer interest by introducing a new line of shoes, including ballet flats, pumps, and wedges.

Next: A children’s retailer offering one last snub to customers

18. Gymboree

Gymboree children's store

It will try to remain in business. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Biggest blunders: loss of mall traffic and not adapting to competitors

It’s no longer fun and games for children’s retailer Gymboree. It filed for bankruptcy earlier in 2017 and announced 350 store closures, roughly a quarter of its total locations. But if you think you can score one last bargain at one of these stores, just wait. In one last snub to customers, Gymboree noted it will not be accepting certain coupons for additional savings at any of its closing stores.

Next: A shoe store that’s shifting focus

19. Payless

payless shoe source

The retailer plans to close 400 stores. | Donald Bowers/Getty Images for Payless ShoeSource

Biggest blunder: lack of e-commerce efforts

Payless was once the go-to destination for discount shoes. But it failed to attract a steady stream of bargain shoppers as online retailers have undercut the competition. Payless plans to close 400 of its weaker stores and file for bankruptcy, so it can invest in areas it believes will deliver growth. It aims to expand into places, such as Latin America, bolster its online presence, and shake up its product offerings.

Next: A mall staple on the verge of breakdown

20. Claire’s


The tween haven is on the decline. | David McNew/Getty Images

Biggest blunder: saturated discount retail industry

Claire’s used to be the premier destination for teenage mall rats looking for cheap jewelry and cosmetics. But the rise of online shops has affected its profits immensely. Decreased mall traffic has Claire’s fighting with other discount fashion retailers for consumer loyalty — a battle Claire’s is losing. According to Business Insider, credit consulting firm F&D Reports predicts the retailer could be the next vulnerable company that succumbs to closures if something isn’t done to reroute its downhill trajectory. In March 2018, the company was reportedly planning to file for bankruptcy.

Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.

Additional reporting by Ali Harrison.