It seems like we hear about it constantly. A famous, household name store announces they're closing a lot of locations.

In the latest case, Memphis-based discount chain Fred's has announced they're closing 159 of their stores. The closures will cover 30% of their stores.

Fred's is closing nearly 30% of its stores, 14 in Nashville area

"Markets are constantly changing," said Andrew Borchers, associate dean at Lipscomb's College of Business. "Consumers are very fickle. Things go hot and cold very quickly. Some retailers are frankly past their prime and are headed out. The location's not so much the problem so much as the business model."

"If price drives you, then somebody who's very efficient like a Walmart or Amazon are probably going to be successful," he continued. "Smaller retail chains are going to struggle, because they don't have the buying power or the logistics ability to get things at a low cost." 

Borchers said there's a constant challenge for companies to keep traffic coming and stay out of the red. 

Just look at the big changes for a few businesses headquartered in Tennessee. In the past few years, Gibson Guitar, Gigi's Cupcakes, Backyard Burgers and Logan's Roadhouse all filed bankruptcy. Both Backyard Burgers and Logan's Roadhouse have since exited bankruptcy. Ruby Tuesday closed 95 of their restaurants. Lifeway Christian Resources is closing all its stores to go the way of online business. 

"Certain kinds of products seem to fit the e-commerce world better than others, like books," said Borchers. 

Borchers said there's no one reason so many big companies are closing so many spots, but there are some trends. 

"The food market is constantly looking for new concepts," he said. "New concepts emerge and take off. Old concepts die away."

"The trend of today's e-commerce growing from 16% of retail trade to, some experts think, 25% by 2026, you'll see thousands of stores probably leave the market," Borchers continued.

He said the flexibility of companies will also effect the success level of many malls. He said a lot of square footage in retail space is likely to become available at malls in coming years. 

"Apple could become the anchor of a mall because they have a high foot traffic," Borchers said. "It all depends on the product they're covering and whether it's a product people want to come and see. One of the real questions for those food chains and retailers is how agile they are to change their approach as there's a need for it."

Copyright 2019 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


Forrest Sanders is an award-winning reporter, videographer and editor at News4.

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