Stores Related to Forever 21
Apparel retailer Forever 21 is an important tenant, occupying millions of square feet in regional malls, lifestyle properties and outlet centers. The chain is the fifth largest specialty retailer in the nation, and recent speculation about the poor performance of its bigger stores has the industry buzzing about the competitive pressures facing Forever 21, and how they might affect its future real estate strategy.
“Forever 21 was an opportunist, ” says Michael Lushing, principal with Los Angeles-based Lushing Retail Advisors. “When they were presented with a bunch of big, empty boxes, they said yes to a lot of them.
They got stuck with a ton of GLA they needed to fill and, at the same time, they got inundated with competition from overseas. There are a lot of folks challenging Forever 21 right now, and Forever 21’s big stores are too much work for their customers. If someone can find a nice variety in a smaller space, they’re going to shop there.”
No clear strategy
Forever 21 is a private company, so it’s a challenge to get an accurate picture of the retailer’s financial health. The chain didn’t respond to NREI’s request for an interview, but recent reports indicate that sales will likely reach $4.5 billion this year, a 15 percent increase from 2013.
The retailer has announced that it wants to become an $8 billion company by 2017, and to open 600 stores in the next three years. Recently, Forever 21 launched Red21, a smaller format store with even lower price points than its flagship concept.
Currently, Forever 21 operates 600 stores worldwide, primarily in regional malls. The average store is 38, 000 sq. ft., and the largest is approximately 162, 000 sq. ft. The original Fashion 21 store, opened in 1984, is only 900 sq. ft.
“I’m not sure Forever 21 really had a real estate strategy in the past, ” says one industry expert who has significant experience with the retailer. “They’ve approached real estate in an old-school way—going with their gut rather than hard data. For example, in the past they’ve been known to take an old movie theater because they liked the location.”
Although there’s no sign Forever 21 plans to close its larger stores or pull back on its expansion plans, many experts question the chain’s decision to operate such large stores, which demand a large assortment of merchandise. Over the years, the company has added a number of new departments, including contemporary, plus sizes, men’s, children’s, lingerie and shoes.
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