Troubleshooter: E-mail claims stores are closing

November 25, 2008 5:36:27 AM PST
An e-mail claiming 30 different stores are closing is spreading like a wildfire.

It says use your gift cards now or lose them. But is this e-mail true or just a hoax?

Here's the e-mail:

If you have gift certificates to any of these stores you better use them before it's too late. The following stores will be going out of business and closing down between October 2008 and January 2009.

  • Circuit City
  • Ann Taylor closing 117 stores
  • Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, and Catherine's to close 150 store nationwide
  • Eddie Bauer to close stores 27 stores and more after January
  • Cache will close all stores
  • Talbots closing down all stores
  • J. Jill closing all stores
  • GAP closing 85 stores
  • Footlocker closing 140 stores more to close after January
  • Wickes Furniture closing down
  • Levitz closing down remaining stores
  • Bombay closing remaining stores
  • Zales closing down 82 stores and 105 after January
  • Whitehall closing all stores
  • Piercing Pagoda closing all stores
  • Disney closing 98 stores and will close more after January
  • Home Depot closing 15 stores 1 in New Brunswick, NJ
  • Macys to close 9 stores after January
  • Linens and Things closing all stores
  • Movie Galley Closing all stores
  • Pacific Sunware closing stores
  • Pep Boys Closing 33 stores
  • Sprint/ Nextel closing 133 stores
  • JC Penney closing a number of stores after January
  • Ethan Allen closing down 12 stores
  • Wilson Leather closing down all stores
  • Sharper Image closing down all stores
  • K B Toys closing 356 stores
  • Loews to close down some stores
  • Dillard's to close some stores

Here's what we found. While some of these stores are closing, like Linens and Things for others, it's old news like Shaper Image and Wilson's Leather as the majority of their stores already closed their doors. Both retailers still sell on-line. Wilson's Leather still has their outlet stores open. As for Circuit City, a rep says while they are closing 155 stores across the country. Only 1 in NC, which is in Charlotte.

Ann Taylor announced in January of 2008, it's closing 117 stores, 25 by the end of 2008, 14 in 2009, The other 78 stores will be Ann Taylor loft, this represents 16 percent of those stores. Here is the response from an Ann Taylor rep:

"It has come to our attention that false and misleading information, regarding our Company and our store closure program, is circulating on the Web, as part of a hoax to scare consumers away from purchasing gift cards. Ann Taylor is a financially strong Company that operates nearly 1,000 Ann Taylor, LOFT, Ann Taylor Factory and LOFT Outlet stores across the U.S. In January 2008, we announced plans to close 117 underperforming stores over the three-year period ending in 2010, as part of a strategic restructuring program designed to reduce our cost structure and make the Company even stronger. Our gift cards continue to be a popular and great option for gifting this Holiday season and can be redeemed at any of our stores, as well as on line at www.anntaylor.com and anntaylorLOFT.com. "

How about Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, and Catherine's? In a statement a company rep responded by stating, " We understand and appreciate this concern, as there seems to be news in the press, on a daily basis, about a difficult retail environment and resulting store closures. Last February, we announced that we would be closing 150 stores, just over 5% of our total store base of 2,400 stores. This included 40 Lane Bryant stores, 10 Catherines Plus Sizes stores, and 100 Fashion Bug stores. At this time, about 100 of our store closings are complete, with the remaining 50 occurring through the end of January 2009. We do not have a list of the remaining 50 stores that we can share with you at this time. With regard to your question about gift cards, any of our remaining 2,300 stores, or our online sites, will be happy to honor and process gift cards, from any of our brands ? Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, Catherines Plus Sizes or Petite Sophisticate Outlet. Any valid Charming Shoppes brand gift card, whether purchased online, or from any Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, Catherines Plus Sizes or Petite Sophisticate Outlet store, may be honored, at any of our 2,300 stores, or our e-commerce sites, in accordance with the gift card terms and conditions."

When it comes to Eddie Bauer a rep provided this statement. "There is an e-mail circulating that warns consumers to avoid purchasing gift cards from retailers including Eddie Bauer. The email contains misleading information about our store closures and I wanted to take this opportunity to clarify the facts. The store closures cited in the email were picked up from Eddie Bauer's annual report last March about our normal course closure of a handful of stores in January of 2008.

Currently, we operate 376 retail stores throughout the U.S. and Canada. Every year we close a small number of stores because of expiring leases and changes in business trends. We also open new locations every year, with plans for more new stores in 2009.

Eddie Bauer has been in business since 1920, and we remain committed to providing our customers with outstanding quality, value and service now and for many years to come. Our gift cards are a great gifting option for the holidays and you can purchase and redeem them at any of our retail stores, through our catalogs or online at www.eddiebauer.com. We hope this addresses any concerns you have, and we look forward to serving you this holiday season."

As for Cache closing all it's stores a rep said that is simply not true. They did announce in Spring 2008 they were closing 20 stores. Those stores are all now closed and there are no plans to close additional stores. Gift cards still being accepted.

As for Talbots closing down all stores, they did close the kids and men's stores earlier this year, but a rep says the rest of the stores are staying open. J. Jill is owned by Talbots and a rep says while J. Jill is for sale, there are no plans to close stores at this point.

On GAP's Website it details as of November 1, 2008, GAP closed 65 of it's domestic stores, but opened 10 new ones. It opened 30 stores internationally and closed 15. Company wide, including Old Navy and Banana Republic, they have a net loss of 1 store.

Footlocker announced in May of 2008 that all stores were to be closed by the end of the fiscal year. Footlocker owns more than 3,785 stores worldwide under various names, Foot Locker, Footaction, Lady Foot Locker, Kids Foot Locker, Champs Sports.

Wickes Furniture, Levitz, Whitehall and Bombay confirm it's closing down all stores.

Zales announced in February of 2008, by the end of this year they will close 55 full-size stores and 50 kiosks leaving them with 2,145 retail locations in the U.S.

According to reps at Home Depot, Macy's, Pacific Sunware, Pep Boys, JC Penny's and Sprint the rumors of them closing their stores is simply not true.

The e-mail also claims Ethan Allen is closing down 12 stores. According to their rep, on January 10th 2008 they announced that they were closing 12 retail locations and 2 service centers, they've opened other stores. It's creating fear at a time when consumers are scared, they're still profitable, have taken steps to prepare for the downturn. Consumers should be reassured that they're doing fine.

So don't pass this e-mail along to others, as it's misleading at best. When it comes to gift cards: You should think twice. Check to see if there's an expiration date, if they diminish value over time, and yes, there is always the possibility of the store closing, leaving you with nothing.


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