A Teen Retailer Is The Latest Victim Of The Shopping Mall Implosion

Troubled teen retailer Wet Seal has finally gone public with store closures. 

After days of angry claims from displaced workers, Wet Seal announced it will close 338 of its 511 stores. 

The closures left 3,695 workers without jobs. 

Wet Seal will continue operating about 173 stores. 

Sales at Wet Seal have declined for 11 of the past 12 quarters. 

Workers at a failing store in Seattle left a sign to protest alleged mismanagement at the store. The sign was posted on Reddit.

Employees alleged they were given one day’s notice to find new jobs and weren’t paid for unused paid time off and sick days. 

The sign posted at the Northgate Mall store lists how long many of the employees had worked with the retailer. 

Wet seal storeRedditThe sign posted in a Wet Seal store at Northgate Mall.

Wall Street analysts blame increased competition in the teen sector, declining mall traffic, and fashion misses for Wet Seal’s decline. 

The teen apparel market is also struggling, with big-name players like Radio Shack, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Aeropostale closing stores. 

Wet Seal has been a shopping mall staple for the last two decades, and is suffering as mid-level malls struggle to survive amid widespread closures of major department stores, such as Sears, J.C. Penney, and Macy’s.

Once mall anchors close, it can be difficult for mall owners to find a tenant to replace them, said Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates, Inc., a national retail-consulting and investment-banking firm. 

That has put pressure on other mall-based retailers such as Aeropostale, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Wet Seal.

More than two dozen malls have shut down in the last four years and another 60 malls are on the brink of death, The New York Times reports, citing Green Street Advisors, a real-estate and real estate investments trust analytics firm.

“Teen retailers … are all a disaster and these middle-level malls are killing them,” Davidowitz said.

Hayley Peterson contributed to this story.

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