Stores closing: 225 through 2015
As it turns out, you don't need a small airline hangar to sell parents and kids school supplies anymore. You just need a website, a storage facility and a means of distribution.
This is the lesson staples has learned over the past year or so. As a result, it announced in March that it planned on closing 12% of its North American stores and shifting its focus to online retail. It turns out that roughly half of all Staples sales come from online orders and that $500 million in overhead from these stores really isn't helping a chain that's already in flux.
Technology has just kept kicking away at Staples as big margin products such as paper, ink, toner and printers are seeing reduced demand. While it's great Staples is embracing online retail, it's also aware Amazon has beat it there and will force it into deep discounting just to survive. Staples execs claim they want to broaden the store's reach by offering tablets and other electronics, but those are low-margin products already being offered by similarly troubled chains including Wal-Mart, Target, Sears and Best Buy.
It's getting tough for big-box stores all around, especially those most commonly associated with paper.