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US retail store closures could reach record high in 2017

Retail store closures in the United States could reach a record high in 2017, according to an April 6 report by analysts at Credit Suisse Group AG.

The number of store closures could exceed 8,640 in 2017, beating the record of 6,163 seen in 2008, according to a report by Christian Buss and other Credit Suisse equity research analysts. Credit Suisse has gathered data on store closures since 2000.

The analysts based their estimates on the fact that about 60% of store closure announcements historically happen in the first five months of the year. About 2,880 closures have been announced year-to-date. That is above the 1,153 announced for the same period in 2016. Over the course of 2016, 2,056 stores were closed.

The pace of store closures in the first quarter "suggests the industry is beginning to adapt to the secular challenge of increasing online penetration and declining four-wall productivity of brick-and-mortar stores," the report said.

Credit Suisse also estimates that on a square-foot basis, space reductions could reach 147 million square feet in 2017, above the record peak of 115 million square feet in 2001. About 49 million square feet of retail space has been closed year-to-date, the report said.