Nordstrom permanently closing 16 full-line stores…

Photo Credit: Phillip Pessar

Nordstrom plans to permanently close 16 of its 116 full-line stores while moving toward a phased reopening of others, as it tailors its immediate future to the realities of retail in the coronavirus pandemic.

The Seattle-based company also said it will make changes to how its stores function in a “market-by-market” approach, and will move its big Anniversary Sale from July to August.

Shuttering one out of seven stores is not simply a response to the pandemic, said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail.

“This coronavirus crisis is the catalyst rather than the cause,” he said. “Not all of its full-line stores pull their weight. … Some have probability that is dwindling. They’re saying, ‘Look, we don’t see a future in these stores, let’s cut our losses.’”

That kind of triage frees the company to invest where it makes most sense, he added.

Nordstrom did not say which stores would be closed. A spokeswoman said Wednesday morning it’s in the process of notifying employees at the affected locations.

The company has selectively closed some full-line stores in recent years. In January 2019, it had 121, according to a regulatory filing.

In a statement, Nordstrom CEO Erik Nordstrom said the company has been spending in recent years “to keep pace with rapidly changing customer expectations. The impact of COVID-19 is only accelerating the importance of these capabilities in serving customers.”

He said the company will press ahead with its dual digital and physical strategies, “bringing inventory closer to where customers live and work, allowing us to use our stores as fulfillment centers to get products to customers faster, and connecting digital and physical experiences with services like curbside pickup and returns.”