Posted: 9:50 am Monday, April 27th, 2009

Zales, FYE among biggest losers of retail recession 

By Jeff Ostrowski

The disappearance of Circuit City and Linens ‘N Things from the local retail landscape might be just the beginning.

As jobless rates soar and the economy limps along, many experts expect a severe shakeout in the retail industry.

“We currently have 20 square feet of retail space for every man, woman and child in America,” says Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates, a retail consultant and investment banking firm based in New York. “That’s simply too much. We have too many stores doing the same thing. There’s going to be some kind of cleansing.”

In Palm Beach County, the ratio is even higher — 26 square feet of retail space per person. And the cleansing already has begun, as stores close and vacancy rates rise. After the jump, 10 national retailers with stores in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast facing financial trouble, based on loss-per-share estimates for this year by Bloomberg.
1. Zales
Estimated loss per share: $2.74
The jewelry business has been battered, and this Texas-based jeweler recently said it’s closing 115 stores nationwide.

2. Trans World Entertainment
Estimated loss per share: $2.18
The retailer’s FYE stores, which sell movies, music and games, are a fixture in Palm Beach County malls.

3. Talbots
Estimated loss per share: $2.09
Women aren’t buying as many clothes amid the recession, leading to a $136 million fourth-quarter loss for the Massachusetts-based retailer. Talbots has three stores in Palm Beach County.

4. Cost Plus
Estimated loss per share: $1.99
Home furnishings retailers have been hit hard, too. Cost Plus owns World Market in Wellington.

5. MarineMax
Estimated loss per share: $1.44
Same-store sales plummeted 52 percent from the first quarter of 2008 to the first quarter of 2009. The boat retailer has been closing stores but still floats locations in North Palm Beach and Stuart.

6. Dillards
Estimated loss per share: $1.20
The department store chain last year closed its huge store at Palm Beach Mall, one of 14 locations nationally shuttered by Dillards.

7. Pier 1 Imports
Estimated loss per share: $1.16
The seller of furniture and knickknacks has been closing stores throughout the country.

8. Saks

Estimated loss per share: $1.08
The luxury market no longer is recession-proof. Saks’ same-store sales plunged 24 percent from March 2008 to March 2009.

9. AnnTaylor Stores

Estimated loss per share: 81 cents
The seller of women’s clothing plans to close 163 stores. It already has shuttered a location at Mizner Park in Boca Raton.

10. Office Depot
Estimated loss per share: 52 cents
Unable to gain ground on stronger rival Staples, the Delray Beach-based retailer recently closed 112 stores.

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