We visited an Express store and the empty ghost town clearly showed why the brand is closing 100 stores

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A scene from an Express store. Bethany Biron/Business Insider

It’s been a rough week for Express.

The retailer announced plans on Wednesday to close a total of 100 stores by the end of 2022, including 31 stores by the end of this month. The news follows layoffs at Express headquarters in Columbus, Ohio and its design studio in New York City earlier this week.

The store closures are part of an effort to restructure the struggling mall brand, which has succumbed to declining foot traffic and dwindling sales in recent in recent years. In January 2019, CEO David Kornberg abruptly stepped down from the company, also pointing to trouble for the brand, which was owned by Limited Brands until 2011.

Express CEO Tim Baxter, who took over the helm in June 2019, said in a statement on Wednesday that the downsizing is part of a larger cost reduction strategy aimed at helping to bolster the ailing brand.

“My expectation is that we will return to a mid-single-digit operating margin through a combination of low-single-digit comp sales growth, margin expansion and cost reductions,” Baxter said in a statement. “This will of course take some time, but we have a clear path.”

We visited an Express store in New York City and saw firsthand why the brand is struggling. Here’s what it was like.


We visited an Express store in Manhattan’s Flatiron neighbourhood, located on a busy shopping street.

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When we arrived shortly after 1 p.m. on a Thursday, there was hardly a shopper in sight.

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It was a ghost town.

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The women’s section was filled with tons of untouched products.

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As we browsed, we still didn’t see a single shopper.

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Where is everybody?

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The men’s section was equally as barren.

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Next, we made our way to the back of the store, where we saw some distant movement near the register.

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We also spotted this unused mobile checkout station.

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On the bottoms of the racks, we spotted tons of untouched accessories.

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Eventually, we found one lone shopper scouring the sale racks …

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… which upon closer inspection, were a mess.

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There were tons of overflowing bins brimming with 50% off apparel.

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So many wrinkles.

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Everywhere we looked, the store was just bursting with unsold products.

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We also saw several promotional signs like this one, which never bodes well.

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Here was another promotional sign, which also doubled as a plea to sign up for an Express credit card.

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There was still no one to be found by the dressing rooms.

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As we got closer to the register, we saw a pile of unattended returns.

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In general, the styles felt fairly uninspired and bland.

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As we were leaving, an employee gave us a free trial for the Express Style Trial rental service.

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We already tested this service back in September, and didn’t love it.


Ultimately, it wasn’t hard to see why Express is on the brink of decline.

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