Forever 21 will close about 350 stores worldwide. None of its eight South Florida stores are affected — at least for now.
The immediate decision not to shutter stores in South Florida made sense, said Jaime Sturgis, CEO of Fort Lauderdale-based Native Realty, which specializes in leases for national retailers.
The price per square foot compared to sales volumes in South Florida outperform those nationally. “They have a strong customer base here. Their demographics — women from ages 18 to 24 with disposable income — are strong in the urban core.”
South Florida has eight locations: Miami International, Dolphin Mall, The Shops @ Sunset Place, Palms Town & Country, Lincoln Road, Pembroke Lakes Mall, Aventura Mall and Sawgrass Mills. In response to phone calls to each from the Herald, store managers said they have no plan to close.
Forever 21’s decision to shrink its global footprint is a sign of a continuing plague for specialty shops, said Impact 2040 President Cynthia Cohen. The challenge comes with paying lease on thousands of square feet with dropping sales, she said. The average square foot on a national level is 38,000 square feet, according to the company’s website.
“When they signed their leases, there was less competition online and offline. Now they have too big of a footprint. Forever 21 was always the place you went for a new top, but with quick shipping that competitive advantage has been weakened. Amazon is pretty fast. Zara is pretty fast,” said Cohen.
“There’s a larger shift of customer preference from quality over quantity. Customers are looking for unique products that they can wear,” he said.
But, he said, South Florida locations may not yet be safe. The company will not announce the full list of closures for several months.