Bath & Body had big U.S. fall

Published 9:24 am Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Bath & Body Works in the Northbridge Mall will be closing at the end of August due to business reasons, according to a Limited Brands spokesperson.

Various stores throughout the country close as leases expire, said Jennifer Ortiz Brown with Limited Brands.

“These actions are consistent with the company’s long-term commitment to its associates and other shareholders to operate efficiently and grow shareholder value,” Brown said in an official statement.

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And according to a new release, store sales across Limited Brands — which includes Victoria’s Secret, White Barn Candle Company and CO Bigelow — reported a 9 percent decrease in the five weeks leading up to July 5 compared to the five weeks ending the same time last year.

A comparable decrease in store sales was reported for the previous five months, according to the release.

Bath & Body Works reported a 10 percent decrease for 2008 as of June. In June 2007, the stores reported a 4 percent decrease compared to an 8 percent decrease in June 2008.

So far this year, Bath & Body Works has closed 12 stores and opened 56. As of July 5, there were 1,636 stores operating across the country.

But the closing of another chain retailer shouldn’t alarm people, Albert Lea Economic Development Agency Executive Director Dan Dorman said.

“We’re seeing more people come in than leaving,” he said. “It shouldn’t be shocking that we’re seeing some of them leaving.”

In the last three or four years, he said, Albert Lea has seen an increase in the number of retailers entering the area — such as the strip mall south of Wal-Mart.

The chain retailers, he said, could be experiencing economic issues and competition coupled with rapid expansion and in turn have to scale back.

Dorman said he expects a few of the vacancies occurring lately — Starbucks closed at the end of July, and Cato Fashions closed on Saturday — to be filled within a few months.