Both Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works will see hundreds of their North American stores closed down, citing the coronavirus pandemic and its resulting sales plummet. The stores' parent company, L Brands, announced the news in its quarterly earnings report on Wednesday.
Known for its line of lingerie, 250 Victoria's Secret locations will close, while 51 Bath & Body Works stores will shutter permanently, according to CTV News. L Brands' total sales declined 37 percent in the first quarter, which ended on May 2. Thirteen of the 38 Victoria's Secret stores in Canada will close, with the other 237 taking place in the U.S. Only one of Canada's Bath & Body Works locations. One of Canada's Bath & Body Works will close, while 50 in the U.S. will shut down. Most of the stores have been closed since March 17 in response to the pandemic.
The closures are just the latest in a series of businesses that have been unable to survive over the past several weeks. JCPenney filed for bankruptcy back on May 4, and will be closing 200 locations of its own department stores. Then on Tuesday it was announced that Pier 1 would be closing all of its storefronts permanently. In a statement, the company's CEO and CFO Robert Riesbeck wrote that "the challenging retail environment has been significantly compounded by the profound impact of COVID-19, hindering our ability to secure such a buyer and requiring us to wind down."
Speaking with CTV's Your Morning, retail consultant Doug Stephens spoke about how the current pandemic has exposed critical weaknesses in some of the hardest-hit companies. "Much as it does with human beings, it finds pre-existing conditions or underlying ailments in companies as well," Stephens explained. "Some of those may be that a company is carrying too much debt, that they're too reliant perhaps on physical stores, or in some cases, it's just brands that have had trouble sort of finding their positioning for years. I think that as this crisis progresses and as brands come under the stress of this crisis as it protracts, I think we are going to see more brands follow suit."
Though some states have already started to lift their Stay-at-Home restrictions, to varying degrees of success, it appears that a return to normalcy will largely revolve around a definitive treatment or vaccine for coronavirus. Dr. Anthony Fauci testified before the Senate on May 12 that he hopes one will be available for widespread use by the late fall or early winter this year.