Low-cost fashion brand H&M has announced plans to close hundreds of stores next year as the coronavirus pandemic moves more shopping online.
The Stockholm-based company is one of the world's biggest fashion retailers.
The company said it will close around 250 stores in 2021. The closures reflect about 5% of the company's 5,000 store locations worldwide. It's not yet known where the closures will take place.
"More and more customers started shopping online during the pandemic, and they are making it clear that they value a convenient and inspiring experience in which stores and online interact and strengthen each other," H&M CEO Helena Helmersson said in a statement.
At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, about 80% of H&M's stores were closed. Currently 166 stores, representing 3% of its store count, remain closed, the company said.
The group said the pandemic had affected all parts of the business, including product purchasing, investments, rents, staffing and financing. Its third quarter sales fell 16% to $5.7 million, largely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Although the challenges are far from over, we believe that the worst is behind us and we are well placed to come out of the crisis stronger,” she said of the pandemic.
The coronavirus pandemic has had a particularly big impact on retailers. Last week, Brookfield Properties, one of the nation's largest mall operators said it would be cutting 20% of its workforce in its retail division, as the pandemic has accelerated online shopping and resulted in a string of store closings and bankruptcies.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.