This Iconic Store Is Closing Locations, Starting May 22
You won't be able to visit some of these stores in the coming months.
In-person shopping has taken a hit in popularity, thanks in large part to many of us choosing to shop online from the comfort of our own homes. But conveniently placing orders with the click of a bottom also has its downsides, as many stores have been forced to close due to what some experts call the "retail apocalypse." Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, big retailers and malls were already struggling to stay afloat. And while some claim we are moving toward what Forbes calls a hybrid model with e-commerce and physical stores, we continue to hear about more and more stores that are pulling the plug. Read on to learn which iconic brand will begin closing locations on May 22.
One kind of store has experienced a significant downturn over the past couple decades.
Across the U.S., the number of brick-and-mortar bookstores decreased from 12,151 in 1998 to 6,045 in 2019, according to data from the Census Bureau's County Business Patterns. This can largely be attributed to the shift to online shopping—Amazon did start as a bookstore, after all—as well as the ability to purchase and read books on e-readers such as Kindle and Nook. Family bookstores and chains alike were affected by this change, and booksellers—like many other retailers—were further impacted by closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the social media platform TikTok seems to be generating some nostalgia for reading and larger bookstores, with many users employing these locations as the backdrop for videos, one iconic bookseller announced it will be closing locations soon.
A major bookseller is closing locations in May and June.
Barnes & Noble has been forced to address the rise of Amazon, which accounts for nearly half of the physical books sold in the U.S., The New York Times reported. When stores were forced to close during the pandemic, revenue declined by 50 percent for Barnes & Noble locations in major metropolitan areas, as well as accompanying in-store cafes, according to The Wall Street Journal. Now, even as stores are generally open for in-person browsing, Barnes & Noble announced it would be closing two locations, according to The Boston Globe.
Both of these closing locations are in the same area.
In January, Boston.com reported that the Barnes & Noble location in Saugus, Massachusetts, was closing permanently due to the landlord redeveloping the property and not renewing the bookstore's lease.
Additional locations are facing a similar fate—the first of which is located on Granite Street in Braintree, Massachusetts. The company announced the closure in a Facebook post in Dec. 2021, again stating that the location's landlord had "chosen to redevelop this space for another tenant." In the social media post, it was confirmed the store would close on May 22, but had plans to relocate nearby. However, there has not been confirmation on where or when that will be.
As reported by The Boston Globe, the Braintree location nearly closed in Feb. 2020. Having operated for 26 years at that time, the location was able to negotiate with the building landlord after customers sent emails "protesting the closure."
In addition to the Braintree location, a Barnes & Noble at the Prudential Center in Boston also announced it would be closing up shop. The news came via Facebook, once again due to an issue with the building landlord. The post stated store operators "were unable to reach an agreement" with the landlord and would be closing on June 19.
The store has actually seen a boost in sales as of late.
Despite these closures, Barnes & Noble's sales have increased, according to The New York Times—up by 3 percent in 2021 when compared with 2019. Book sales specifically were up by 14 percent since the start of the pandemic. Having once been seen as the "big bad wolf," consuming other independent sellers with mass marketing, the company has turned its critics into cheerleaders.
This is mostly tied to keeping the print business alive, as well as Barnes & Noble's ability to help readers find new titles and keep investments in actual stores, The Times reported. It's all rooted in gearing up to fight "a common enemy," also known as Amazon, Oren J. Teicher, former chief executive of the American Booksellers Association, told the newspaper.
However, the ongoing battle with Amazon may not be the definitive reason why bookstores, like those in Boston, are being forced to close their doors. As one commenter on the Prudential Center's Facebook post wrote, the closure of physical stores may actually have to do with "the extreme challenges of paying commercial rents as a storefront business," and not Amazon's dominant presence.