Saturday, December 7, 2019

CNBC and Business Insider explain the rise and fall of Forever 21, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse

Last week, I featured the Wall Street Journal examining The death and rebirth of Toys R Us as a tale of the Retail Apocalypse for Black Friday/Buy Nothing Day.  This week, CNBC looked at Forever 21's bankruptcy for another installment of tales of the Retail Apocalypse.  Watch CNBC ask and answer Why Did Forever 21 File For Bankruptcy?

Forever 21 has been practically synonymous with “fast fashion” and its massive stores have become a common fixture in America’s shopping malls. But the retailer is in trouble, Forever 21 filed for bankruptcy in September 2019. The brand is now closing hundreds of stores, as its clothes become more interchangeable with “cheap” rather than “trendy.”
I'm glad to see Forever 21's brick-and-mortar competitors mentioned more than its online ones.  In particular, I don't recall anyone mentioning Amazon, which I find to be a relief.  I also appreciated CNBC pointing out how the chain's own errors contributed to their misfortune; that's the case with most of the casualties of the Retail Apocalypse.  I also liked that the final expert interviewed pointed out that this will not be the end of Forever 21; it will survive in the U.S. and Latin America while staying out of the way of H&M in Europe and Uniqlo in Asia, although it will continue to compete with both in its home markets.

Some of that is also true of Business Insider, which told much the same story up to the bankruptcy filing in The Rise And Fall Of Forever 21, a video I should have used at the end of September.

At its peak, Forever 21 made $4.4 billion in revenue and was one of the fastest-growing fast fashion empires. Now, the retailer is preparing to file for bankruptcy after alienating its core customers and struggling to keep up with the rise of e-commerce. As one of the largest tenants of American malls, a large-scale shutdown of Forever 21's stores could exacerbate the ongoing retail apocalypse.
Business Insider's video is shorter and snappier.  It also mentioned both the retail apocalypse and Forever 21's online competitors, which CNBC ignored.  I think viewers should watch both videos to get a fuller account of the the chain's early success and later failure.  It's important to learn from both.

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