The health and nutrition store GNC announced it would close 1,200 of its locations. This announcement comes after the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this Tuesday. GNC has also stated that it’s looking for a buyer.
Nail in the Coffin
The 85-year-old company has said that the closures are just an acceleration of a pre-COVID plan. Prior to the pandemic, the company says it had intended to close somewhere between 800 and 1,200 stores. Many of these locations had already begun liquidation sales. As early as July 2019, GNC had announced that all of its shopping mall locations would shutter. The present crisis has only been a catalyst.
The reason for GNC’s downsizing is twofold.
Firstly, like most in-person retailers, GNC has faced steep competition from the online market. The franchise makes much of its profit by selling health supplements, a product that easily sells online.
Many supplement brands have found great marketing success on social media. And most products can be bought directly from the makers or through internet superstores like Amazon. The bricks-and-mortar GNC shop didn’t stand a chance. In recent years, GNC has amounted a debt of close to $1 billion, all due to online competitors.
A Resilient Pandemic
Secondly, the coronavirus has played a major role in GNC’s downfall. The COVID-19 pandemic has kept customers from entering GNC stores, and the resulting recession has caused many to maintain tighter wallets. All of this was enough to push the failing vitamin franchiser over the edge.
Filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy doesn’t mean the end of the road for GNC. The filing will allow the company to reorganize its finances as it attempts to stay afloat.
GNC has about 5,200 locations in the U.S. and 7,300 globally. Closing 1,200 stores would represent about a quarter of its domestic retailers. However, an announcement on the GNC site explains that even the closing locations will remain open at least until they can sell off their products.
Closures Happening Near You
You can follow this link to look up any affected locations in your area. Keep in mind you’ll probably still have a couple months to take advantage of the liquidation sales.