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Bath & Body Works plans to close 50 stores around the country

There will, however, be some new locations opening.
Bath & Body Works
Many mall locations “may not come back to their pre-crisis levels of productivity,” L Brands CEO Andrew Meslow said in a recent call with investors.Roberto Machado Noa / LightRocket via Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Bath & Body Works is the latest retailer to announce store closures in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The store’s parent company, L Brands, revealed in a first quarter earnings presentation that 50 Bath & Body Works locations in the United States, as well as one store in Canada, will close in 2020.

Most Bath & Body Works locations shut temporarily on March 17 due to the pandemic, and select stores are now beginning to reopen. Net sales for the first quarter of this year dropped 37% from the same period last year, the company said in its report to investors.

The planned closures will affect many mall locations, which “may not come back to their pre-crisis levels of productivity,” L Brands CEO Andrew Meslow said in a recent call with investors.

While some stores are closing, 26 new locations will also open this year, meaning there will still be just over 1,700 Bath & Body Works locations across the U.S. and Canada.

Fewer shoppers may be browsing for lotions, candles and body scrubs in physical Bath & Body Works stores these days, but the company's online sales of soaps and hand sanitizers have surged in recent months. In fact, soap and sanitizer sales could double or even triple due to the COVID-19 situation, Meslow predicts.

“We do believe that that portion of the business especially will continue to grow rapidly as again sanitizer is now something that will likely be part of all of our daily routines for the months and years ahead,” he told investors.

Bath & Body Works is just one of the many businesses facing store closures in 2020. Victoria’s Secret, which is also owned by L Brands, recently announced plans to shut down about 250 locations around the U.S. and Canada.

Home goods retailer Pier 1, which had been struggling even before the pandemic, recently announced that it is going out of business and shutting down all of its 540 stores.

J.C. Penney also recently filed for bankruptcy, and is expected to close hundreds of stores in the coming months. The luxury department store Neiman Marcus, as well as clothing brand J.Crew, also filed for bankruptcy this month.

L Brands has not confirmed which Bath & Body Works stores will be closing in 2020. TODAY Style has reached out to the company for comment and will update this post if we hear back.