MARYLAND — H&M, a low-cost fashion retailer based in Sweden with a heavy mall presence in Maryland, said it plans to close up to 250 stores next year because of decreased foot traffic amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement by parent company H&M Group came in an earnings summary released Thursday.
In September alone, sales decreased by 5 percent. H&M currently has 166 stores, or about 3 percent of its total number of stores, still closed. At the peak of the pandemic, about 80 percent of H&M's 5,000 stores worldwide were closed.
Many stores that are open still have local restrictions and limited opening hours, officials said. For example, many mall stores in Maryland do not open until 11 a.m. and close an hour or more earlier than they did before the pandemic. More customers are shopping online, the report notes.
Even before boutiques and malls were shut down by the coronavirus outbreak, traditional brick-and-mortar establishments were losing revenue and customers to e-commerce giants such as Amazon, Target and Walmart.
"The rapid changes in customer behavior have been accelerated by Covid-19," according to the earnings report. "The H&M group is therefore now stepping up the pace of its transformation work further, with digital investments, optimization of the store portfolio and increasingly integrated channels."
H&M officials said about a quarter of its stores have a contractual right to renegotiate or exit their leases each year and put the potential closure total at 250 stores.
Specific stores slate for closure were not disclosed in the earnings report.
H&M's Maryland stores include:
Westfield Annapolis Mall
Arundel Mills in Hanover
Downtown Silver Spring
Francis Scott Key Mall in Frederick
Harborplace in Baltimore
Lakeforest Mall in Gaithersburg
St. Charles Towne Center in Waldorf
Tanger Outlets at National Harbor
The Centre at Salisbury
The Mall at Prince Georges in Hyattsville
The Mall in Columbia
Towson Town Center
Valley Mall in Hagerstown
White Marsh Mall in Baltimore
Pike & Rose in Bethesda
In July, the parent company of clothing retailers including Justice, Lane Bryant, Ann Taylor, LOFT, Catherine's and Cacique filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Ascena Retail Group announced plans to close about half its 2,800 stores. Ten Justice stores in Maryland and all four Catherine's stores are slated for closure.
Other chains that are closing some or all of their Maryland stores include Pier 1 Imports, Bed Bath & Beyond, Sears, Kmart, Motherhood Maternity, Dressbarn and more.
Pier 1 closed half of its stores to "better align its business with the current operating environment." Nine Maryland stores, including shops in Nottingham, Rockville and Gambrills, were removed from the chain's website. The company confirmed on social media the stores removed from the website were slated for closure. Patch has posted the full list of the Maryland Pier 1 stores expected to close.
Macy's in February said it would close at least one of its 16 stores in the state.
A record 9,300-plus store closings were announced in 2019, and that number could be even higher in 2020, according to a report by Business Insider.