10 Once-Great Retailers That Are Now Pop-Up Halloween Shops
Halloween is about as good a time as any to take U.S. retail's pre-holiday temperature. For some unfortunate retailers, the result comes back as cold as a corpse. Even as the National Association of Realtors predicts retail vacancy rates will improve from 12% to 11% this year, some stores just aren't cutting it.
We took a look around the nation's strip malls and indoor shopping plazas to find the companies most likely to have left logos scarred onto Halloween pop-up stores. The shop windows are filled with cobwebs and grim reapers, but the costume and novelty stores inside are haunted by the ghosts of shopping seasons past:
10. Best Buy (BBY)
Stores closed or closing this year: 50
Remember that Best Buy where the Geek Squad "optimized" that laptop that lasted you about two years? The one where you spent the night on line waiting for the midnight release of that Call Of Duty game your kid wanted? It may be one of dozens Best Buy closed after a disappointing 2011 holiday shopping season that cost ex-CEO Brian Dunn his job. Unfortunately, the big blue-and-yellow-trimmed boxes Best Buy left behind aren't exactly the easiest buildings to repurpose. All that square footage is built for one reason only: To hold a Best Buy and all its departments. Pop-up stores love this kind of shop for its ample storage and modular floor space that goes from peak season to clearance sales just by moving a few black curtains. Once those curtains come down, they're giant retail mausoleums that would take pallets full of unsold BlackBerry (RIMM) devices and DVD copies of Just Go With It to fill.
9. Albertson's/Acme/Sav-A-Lot/SuperValu (SVU)
Stores closed or closing this year: 60
If you're convinced supermarkets just keep the same candy corn and candy pumpkins around from year to year, the failed stores of the SuperValu franchise are about to let you test theory. Citing falling profits and increased competition, SuperValu decided to lose some of its 4,400-store glut this year. Abandoned supermarkets may fall even below Halloween-store standards, but getting some of SuperValu's stale seasonal items in the deal could make pop-ups into one-stop shopping.
8. The Gap (GPS)
Stores closed or closing this year: 89
The same group of consumers that raised online hell for a few days over The Gap's proposed logo change a few years back are far more enamored with what's on the retailer's bags than what's in them. Consumers have been leaving the brand steadily since just after its khakis-and-swing-dancing last hurrah in the '90s and increasingly flocking to the parent company's other shops, including Old Navy, Banana Republic and Athleta. Unless they're planning on choreographing a routine to Brian Setzer's version of Jump, Jive an' Wail at a Halloween party this year, those same consumers will likely keep bypassing the gap for the pop-up shops in its wake.