Shopko, other closures drive retail layoff numbers in Minnesota this year

May 21, 2019 07:11 PM

The closing of three chains of stores has contributed greatly to the number of workers affected by retail layoffs in Minnesota this year.

According to numbers from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, a total of 1,336 workers have been impacted by such layoffs in 2019. Employers with 50 employees or more are required by federal law to report large layoffs to a state's dislocated worker program.


Of that total, 1,113 were a result of Wisconsin-based retail chain Shopko Stores' announcement that it plans to close all of its remaining department stores by mid-June. That means 34 locations in Minnesota have closed or will close.

RELATED: Shopko to close remaining stores in June

A total of 70 layoffs occurred at the Hutchinson location and 100 with the closure of the two Shopko locations in St. Cloud.

A total of 79 layoffs were the result of the closure of six Creative Kids Stuff locations. The popular children's toy store has announced its six locations around the Twin Cities will close by the end of June.

RELATED: In-Depth: What led to Creative Kidstuff closing its doors?

And a total of 53 layoffs were the result of the closure of 12 Payless ShoeSource locations, though layoff numbers for three of those stores - in Maplewood, Roseville and St. Paul - were unknown.

RELATED: Payless ShoeSource to shutter all of its remaining US stores

The company announced earlier this year that it would shutter all of its remaining U.S. stores.

 Dressbarn is also closing 13 stores, 650 nationwide.

Dressbarn's decision to close comes on the heels of several other notable retail closures in Minnesota in 2019.  Below is a list of some of the bigger stores that have already closed or announced they will be closing in the near future.

How do some retailers make it work while others don't?

Shoesters has been a Grand Avenue retailer for 17 years. The St. Paul store caters to people who walk in the door.

"We make it work because of customer service and expertise," said Nancy Kohlsaat. "You can try on shoes here, online you cannot."

Shoppers at the retailer said they still generally prefer shopping in stores.

"I like to go in, I  like to feel the fabric, the construction, I like to try it on," said on shopper. 

"I prefer in the store because I'm a touchy-feely person," added another. 

Carlson School of Management Marketing Professor George John says online shopping is important, but in the retail world it doesn't account for most sales.

"Even today, online is only about 15 percent of retail give or take," John said. "We all think it's 55 percent, that's not true."

He says to survive today stores need a mix of online and in person sales.

"It turns out online is more of a compliment than a substitute, if you can manage both sides of that fence, you're good," he adds. 

But to be good, you need to be releveant.

"In retail, you're going to go out of business if you don't stay releveant, and the speed of which relevance comes and goes is much faster today than it ever was," John said. 

Thanks in large part, he says, to social media.

"Most of us don't need to shop, we want to shop," he said. "And if they can't make us want to shop, its not going to work for them."

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