Why is Forever 21 pulling out of Ireland? ‘Penneys is cheaper’
The US fashion giant is closing its only Irish store after struggling to gain a foothold
US retail giant Forever 21 is to close its only Irish store.
The closure of the US fashion giant Forever 21 in Dublin’s Jervis Street Centre may not come as a surprise to Irish customers. The store had been struggling to gain a foothold in Ireland with losses of some €40 million since opening eight years ago. In addition the company had been sued for copyright infringements regularly – most recently by Gucci - and was responsible for a disastrous credit card information breach in November affecting instore purchases from May to October.
Its fast forward fashion and extensive offering of pants from €12 upwards in every conceivable shape and size including trendy striped satin flares, for example, had to face off online competition from Asos with similar fashion offerings. Not to mention Penneys, which was literally across the street, whose low prices would have chimed more readily with savvy Irish customers. Online images often never delivered the quality portrayed, as any visit to the store would show.
According to Dubliner Lyndsay McGregor, who used to shop in the NYC stores all the time when she was a broke intern, her only purchase in the Irish store was a pair of jeans a few months ago. “Penneys is cheaper, the quality is better and has wider audience appeal. Forever 21 has a very small demographic and its stuff is overpriced for what it is. Any time I wandered into the Jervis Street store, it was empty”, she says.
Others agree that it could not compare to Penneys or H&M despite the variety of options on sleepwear, evening wear and casual gym wear, and that it catered for plus and petite sizes.
The target audience of 22 and below meant that purchases were aimed at low-spend pre-teens, teens and students on a budget. Facing Penneys, however, was not the best location for Forever 21’s audience and the TK Maxx style layout often made searching for certain items haphazard. “The Irish market is fundamentally more fashion conscious than we are given credit for” comments Michelle Hanley, a shopper and social media expert.
“Though I have found many hidden gems in Forever 21, the overall impact of the store is underwhelming and dated with an unfathomable focus on tight fitting marled knits – not much in line with feminist ideals of 2018”.
The closure in Ireland follows similar closures of Forever 21 outlets in Europe, the US and Canada, a fact which highlights the continual challenge facing retailing environments in a modern age particularly many youth oriented stores worldwide. It follows the closure of American Apparel in Dublin two years ago, and another US based company, Urban Outfitters, struggling with falling sales and changing tastes.