America’s ‘Retail Apocalypse’ Is Really Just Beginning by Bloomberg LP

With sky-high consumer confidence, historically low unemployment and a growing economy, retail should be booming. Yet more chains are filing for bankruptcy and rated distressed than during the financial crisis. E-commerce is just a small part of the problem; the root cause is that many of these long-standing chains are overloaded with debt, which has caused an increase in the number of delinquent loan payments by malls and shopping centers.

This debt coming due, along with America’s over-stored suburbs and the continued gains of online shopping, has all the makings of a disaster. The spillover will likely flow far and wide across the U.S. economy. There will be displaced low-income workers, shrinking local tax bases and investor losses on stocks, bonds and real estate. If today is considered a retail apocalypse, then what’s coming next could truly be scary.

We took a detailed look at this subject from every angle: store closings, delinquent commercial loans, retail bankruptcies, consumer confidence, unemployment, wages and retail jobs concentration. With a wealth of data at our disposal, the best and most helpful graphical forms were chosen for each aspect of this story. All of these maps and charts aid the reporting to form the most comprehensive chronicle of America’s retail apocalypse.

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