Brookstone latest national retailer to file for bankruptcy, shutter stores

    Specialty retail chain Brookstone, best known for selling massage chairs and electronic gadgets, has filed for bankruptcy and is closing all of its mall-based stores, including the Baton Rouge location in the Mall of Louisiana
    Brookstone is the latest in a series of national mall tenants to file for bankruptcy and shutter stores in recent years, including The Limited, Wet Seal, Rue21 and department store chain Bon-Ton, CNBC reports. Locally, the Mall of Louisiana has lost national retailers such as hhgregg, Gymboree and The Gap in the past year alone.
    Brookstone blamed a “continued deterioration of traditional mall traffic,” CNBC reports, as it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Thursday and announced it would shutter its 101 stores in malls across the U.S.
    The company, owned by Chinese conglomerate Sanpower Group, will continue to operate its 35 airport locations and its online and wholesale business, which it hopes to sell.
    “The decision to close our mall stores was difficult, but ultimately provides an opportunity to maintain our well-respected brand and award-winning products while operating with a smaller physical footprint,” Brookstone CEO Piau Phang Foo said in a statement.
    This is the second bankruptcy for Brookstone, filing in 2014 before being sold to Sanpower Group, which kept most of its locations running at the time.
    The company said its 2017 sales totaled $351 million, down 33% from 2016, USA Today reports. E-commerce sales represented about 40% of its business.
    The shift toward online shopping among consumers, spurred by e-commerce giants like Amazon, is mostly to blame for the retail shakeup.
    In response, malls and shopping centers are looking to local retailers and service tenants like health clubs, nail salons and restaurants to fill vacant space abandoned by national brands. The newest tenants at the Mall of Louisiana include fitness club Burn Boot Camp, Amazing Chi massage parlor and Smashburger.
    Still, vacancy rates are up at malls across the U.S., reaching 8.6% in the second quarter of 2018—up from 8.4% in the first quarter and the highest rate malls have seen since 2012—according to CNBC.
    Mall of Louisiana representatives did not return a request for comment by press time.

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