April 1, 2019
by Daphne Sorenson
Victoria’s Secret is experiencing a very public meltdown. The world’s most famous lingerie brand is closing up to 53 stores in North America in 2019, due to a decline in sales. According to Business Insider, most of the stores are located in shopping malls, which have been experiencing their own major financial problems in recent years. Although Victoria’s Secret has swimwear and sportswear, the company’s core business is still lingerie. In November 2018, Victoria’s Secret Lingerie appointed John Mehas its CEO. He replaced Jan Singer, who was with the company for two years.
Meanwhile, PINK—the Victoria’s Secret brand targeted to millennials—has become a big flop. Jefferies analyst Randal Konik told investors that sales for PINK in fell in the “low double digits” for the fourth quarter of 2018, according to Business Insider. Konik gave investors this bleak view of PINK after he attended a PINK consumer event at New Jersey’s Rutgers University on March 29, 2019: “Our visit to Rutgers University on 3/29 shows the PINK brand without fans and rudderless. We believe PINK sales may be cut in half or more within the next 12-24 months.”
It’s the latest financial problem for Victoria’s Secret parent company L Brands, which already experienced the shutdown of its Henri Bendel business in January 2019.
So why has Victoria’s Secret been losing so much business? In December 2018, Business Insider reported that it’s a combination of reasons, such as complaints about bad customer service, the declining quality of the clothes and the company’s alienating image that women are “sexy” only if they look like the thin women who are hired to be Victoria’s Secret models. It didn’t help that L Brands chief marketing officer Ed Razek told Vogue in 2018 that there were no plans for Victoria Secret to have plus-sized on transgender models, and that Victoria’s Secret was not going to add plus-sizes because L Brands already has retail brand Lane Bryant, whose specialty is plus-sized women’s clothing. (What he didn’t mention in the interview is that Lane Bryant is also experiencing financial difficulties and store closures.)
Simply put: In an era where consumers are demanding more inclusive representation, Victoria’s Secret has been increasingly perceived as old-fashioned, out-of-touch and over-priced.
TV ratings for the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show have also been on a rapid decline. The show, which debuted in 1995, wasn’t televised until 2001, when it got 12.4 million U.S. viewers on ABC. It remains the highest-rated Victoria’s Secret show for a single TV network, according to Nielsen. CBS televised the show in 2002, 2003 and from 2005 to 2017. During those years, the ratings ranged from 10.5 million U.S. viewers (in 2002) to 5 million U.S. viewers (in 2017). ABC picked up the show in 2018, when it had 3.3 million U.S viewers.
Here’s a partial list of the Victoria’s Secret stores that are confirmed to close in 2019, according to Business Insider:
- Astoria, New York: 31-35 Steinway Street
- Clay, New York: Great Northern Mall, 4155 NY-31
- Washington, DC: 1050 Connecticut Avenue NW
- Reston, Virginia: Reston Town Center, 11929 Market, Suite 50
- Richmond, Virginia: Stony Point Fashion Park, 9200 Stony Point Parkway
- Glen Allen, Virginia: Virginia Center Commons, 10101 Brook Road
- Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: Myrtle Beach Mall, 10177 N. Kings Highway
- Knoxville, Tennessee: West Town Mall, 7600 Kingston Pike
- Jacksonville, Florida: Regency Square Mall, 9501 Arlington Expressway
- Cedar Falls, Iowa: College Square Mall, 1 College Square Mall
- Akron, Ohio: Chapel Hill Mall, 2000 Brittain Road
- Cincinnati, Ohio: Tri-County Mall, 11700 Princeton Pike
- Cleveland, Ohio: Tower City Center, 230 W. Huron Road
- Elyria, Ohio: Midway Mall, 3433 Midway Mall