The parent company of Victoria’s Secret, L Brands, announced Wednesday plans to close 250 stores across the United States and Canada.
L Brands reported significant losses due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Victoria’s Secret total sales falling 46% during the first fiscal quarter that ended May 2, CNBC reported.
In addition to the store closures, L Brands said it plans to focus on managing inventory and selling more items at full price.
Bath & Body Works, another L Brands company, saw total sales fall as well, dropping 18%. Online business though, surged 85%, with people stocking up on hand sanitizers and soap.
L Brands has been trying to spin off Victoria’s Secret recently, even agreeing to sell the majority stake to a private equity firm. That deal has fallen through amid the pandemic, but L Brands still plans to sell, the company confirmed Wednesday.
In recent years, Victoria’s Secret has tried to weather a shift in the zeitgeist — both as people move away from malls and to online shopping as well as when it comes to women’s bodies. A 2018 TIME headline noted “Victoria's Secret Created an Impossible Ideal of Sexy. Now It's Struggling to Stay Relevant.”
“Perhaps the most important factor in this decline is the reality that the company’s one-note definition of sexy is no longer shared by many American women,” journalist Amy Odell wrote in the TIME piece. “Of course, plenty are still interested in push-up bras and would love to have the abs of an Angel… But as brands like Aerie, ThirdLove and Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty move into the market, capitalizing on the sex appeal of all body types, Victoria’s Secret finds itself an odd fit for lingerie’s new feminist era. “
Additionally, Victoria’s Secret is known for its bedazzled push up bras and stylish lingerie — both of which are a part of a shrinking market. As many people have shifted in recent years to more comfortable clothing, sports bras have seen a rise in popularity — accounting for one-third of millennials’ bra spending in 2018, according to market research firm NPD Group.
Several other poorly performing companies have been felled by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and resulting closures. Earlier this week, JCPenney filed for bankruptcy and announced the closure of 240 stores, while Neiman Marcus and J.Crew both filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this month.