Is Claire’s Going Under?

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Mall accessories chain Claire's lost $570 million in the fourth quarter. The cause is obvious: no one's shopping there. But also, $297 million of the losses are due to goodwill impairment, which basically means the brand has lost a lot of its value. Because plastic bracelets with Claire's tags were worth so much more two years ago. If you're hoping this means a quick and quiet death to hers-and-hers friendship necklaces for 11-year-old best friends everywhere, don't get too excited. Though same-store sales were down 7.2 percent, first-quarter sales are only "slightly negative," indicating that those numbers are stabilizing. “The economic turmoil that continued through the third quarter worsened in the beginning of the fourth quarter and definitely impacted sales as traffic softened and the customers stayed away from nearly any shopping experience,” chief executive officer Gene Kahn said (emphasis ours, to make him feel better).

The chain was forced to close 120 stores in the fourth quarter. But they also opened fifteen. Maybe they found some really cheap space to lease in malls and they're trying to catch runoff from the throngs of tweens buying Twilight T-shirts at Hot Topic. If Claire's knows what's good for it, it will jump on that bandwagon. Lip-gloss rings are out. Photos of a slightly disheveled Robert Pattinson are in.

Claire's Loses $570M on Impairment, Slowed Traffic [WWD]