HHGregg’s empty stores may never find another retailer to fill their space

The retail apocalypse has claimed many victims over the last few months but even more frightening is the fact that hundreds of empty retail spaces may never be filled again according to this Indy Star report.

That HHGregg store near you might never be filled again — at least, not by a retailer.

Indianapolis appliances and electronics seller HHGregg Inc. is in the process of closing all of its stores, including 17 Indiana locations and seven that are within 40 miles of Indianapolis. While some of the openings are in prime locations that will attract interest, all of them face uncertain futures.

HHGregg’s liquidation comes amid what analysts have dubbed the “retail apocalypse,” the worst period of retail bankruptcies and closings since at least the Great Recession. As the second quarter begins, retailers already have announced plans to close more than 3,000 stores this year — so many, in fact, that HHGregg’s 220 closings only rank fifth-most in the U.S., according to a list compiled by Business Insider. RadioShack, Payless ShoeScource, The Limited and Family Christian Stores top the list.

“We’re over-retailed,” said Mark Millman, CEO of retail consultancy Millman Search Group. “Retailers are just downsizing to consolidate and make themselves profitable.”

For HHGregg, what began as a consolidation — the company in March announced it would close 88 underperforming stores — quickly spiraled into bankruptcy and liquidation. Even before HHGregg officially collapsed, landlords began preparing to fill vacancies created by the 62-year-old company’s failure.

“We were anticipating, if this were to happen, what direction we might go with the marketing of the properties,” said Larry Davis, a first vice president for CBRE Group Inc.

CBRE manages HHGregg locations on East Washington Street in Indianapolis and on U.S. 31, just north of Greenwood. Davis expressed confidence that HHGregg stores would find new tenants, particularly the two represented by his firm.

HHGregg’s stores typically are between 25,000 and 30,000 square feet. While the prospects for finding retail tenants to fill those spaces in the near future might be dim, it’s not entirely out of the question.