This might be hard for your inner teeny bopper to hear (it was for ours), but Bebe is officially closing all of its stores due to the fact that no one shops at malls anymore. The brand, which you may remember for its signature sequined logo tees and bodycon dresses, issued a statement this week saying that it plans to shutter each and every one of its 170 stores by Memorial Day and move its entire business online.
*Pause for glittery tears*
Bebe’s slow march toward closure has been happening all year. The retailer closed about 27 stores in February, so this news shouldn’t be a total surprise to anyone following the retail business. Plus, Bebe’s stock has fallen by around 80% over the past few years, and while it doesn’t have much debt, it has reportedly lost about $200 million keeping its stores open. If Bebe can’t get out of its leases quickly, the brand will explore bankruptcy and other options for closure, according to a statement.
It’s the end of an era, really. The brand was created in 1976 by Manny Mashouf in San Francisco for the “unique, sophisticated, and timelessly sexy” woman, and the name is allegedly a play on the famous “to be or not to be” Shakespeare line.
Bebe is just the latest mall store to shutter, breaking the hearts of ’90s and ’00s girls nationwide. Abercrombie, Aeropostale, The Limited, Wet Seal, American Apparel, and even department stores like J.C. Penny and Macy’s just can’t keep up with online shopping.
It’s sad, really, to think of how many people are losing their jobs due to the closing of these retail stores — and not just Bebe stores but all the stores that used to be in malls. It’s estimated that in the next few years, more than half of the country’s remaining 1,100 enclosed malls will shutter completely. That’s a whole lot of retail space — it’s actually 48 square feet of retail space per citizen, if you can believe it — that real estate companies will have to figure out what to do with. As more and more “anchor stores,” such as Macy’s and Sears, close, it’s harder for specialty stores, like Bebe, Gap, and Claire’s, to keep up.
Howard Davidowitz, a retail consultant, told Business Insider, “teen retailers are all a disaster, and these middle-level malls are killing them.” The good news? There’s probably a great sale on if you’re in the market for a moto jacket.