When Neiman Marcus opened a store in Bellevue in 2009, many locals were skeptical that a shop specializing in four-figure cocktail dresses and handbags could survive the Great Recession.
But while the upscale scale retailer proved its skeptics wrong in that recession, it isn’t so lucky this time.
Neiman Marcus confirmed this week that its Bellevue store, at The Shops at The Bravern, is among four locations slated to be permanently closed as part of its bankruptcy. Bloomberg News reported Friday that the other three are in Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach, Florida, and in New York City’s Hudson Yards, where a three-story Neiman Marcus store had opened only last year.
Officials with The Bravern shopping complex did not respond to a request for information about the closure. A Neiman Marcus employee reached by phone Friday confirmed that the Bellevue store was closing, but could offer no details about timing or when a closing sale might begin.
The closures are the latest evidence of the damage that the pandemic and recession are doing to a bricks-and-mortar retail sector that was already struggling.
Retail experts say Dallas-based Neiman Marcus had seen sales lag since the last recession and as online competitors emerged, but had been slow to build a robust online presence of its own.
For the month of June, Neiman Marcus’ online portal had less than a quarter of the traffic of upscale rival Nordstrom, according to SimilarWeb.
“With all respect to top management, they didn’t bring a sense of urgency to online marketing,” Greg Furman, of The Luxury Marketing Council, told Forbes in May.
By the time Neiman Marcus filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May, its debts were more than $5 billion, according to Forbes.
The closures came to light earlier this month after a New York commercial real estate firm that markets “distressed” properties listed as for sale the lease of the Bellevue location.
At the time, a Neiman Marcus spokesperson said the sales of the leases was “not necessarily an indication that we are closing a particular store, but rather a way to monetize the value of the leases at these properties and allocate the proceeds toward investments that drive profitable and sustainable growth.”
But in a statement to Bloomberg this week, Neiman Marcus confirmed the four closures, which it said would “help ensure the continued long-term success of our business and underscores our unrelenting focus on providing unparalleled luxury experiences and engagement.”
The store is currently open only for curbside pickup and by appointment.