Without my nephews to play with at Thanksgiving dinner yesterday, I spent much of the time talking with my husband’s mom and her sisters. Shopping, naturally, came up. Brandon’s aunt mentioned that she isn’t buying store-specific gift cards this year because of an email she received cautioning consumers that many popular stores are closing or have imminent plans to close, including Charming Shoppe stores Fashion Bug, Lane Bryant and Catherines. My google fu turned up the email, which reads that the trio of stores are set to close 150 stores nationwide this year. Other stores are on the list, too, like Cache, J. Jill, Talbot’s, the Gap, Macy’s, Foot Locker, Pacific Sun and Dilliards.
According to Snopes.com, Charming Shoppes has closed 150 of its approximately 2,630 outlets. ABC news doesn’t address the Charming Shoppes family, but refutes the purported closings of other stores. The 150-store closing notice isn’t exactly new news, though. The company released this information in a February statement. According to it, about 100 of those store closings are of underperforming Fashion Bug stores, 40 Lane Bryants and 10 Catherines. Nearly 100 closings have now been made, with the rest scheduled to close by Jan. 31. The company also closed its Petite Sophisticate retail brand altogether, although it retained about 52 Petite Sophisticate Outlet stores.
In November amidst depressing third-quarter losses, Charming announced it was discontinuing the Lane Bryant Woman catalog and that it will close 100 more stores next year. These closures are in addition to the 150 stores on the chopping block for this year, for a total of 250 store closings by the end of 2010. No word on the retail breakdown of these additional store closings. The company also plans to reduce its new store openings budget by half and its relocation budget by 20 percent.
So, should you buy gift cards for Fashion Bug/Lane Bryant/Catherine’s stores? You can always spend them online (Check PrettyPear.com for online sale offerings), but if you want to spend them in a brick-and-mortar store, it depends on where you live and how your local store is performing. Perhaps a better idea for those plus-size fashionistas on your holiday shopping lists might be to get them Visa or Mastercard giftcards instead this year.