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Why Shares of Urban Outfitters Are Falling Today

By John Rosevear - Updated Mar 23, 2020 at 12:11PM

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The looming question: How long will stores be closed?

What happened

Shares of retailer Urban Outfitters (URBN 6.21%) were falling on Monday, as investors grappled with the likelihood that the company's brick-and-mortar shutdown will last much longer than originally expected. 

As of 1 p.m. EDT, Urban Outfitters' shares were down about 9% from Friday's closing price.

So what

Like most non-essential brick-and-mortar retailers in North America, Urban Outfitters has already shuttered its stores. The company said on March 14 that it will close all of its stores, all around the world, until at least March 28. (For those keeping track, note that the company also promised to pay its store teams during the shutdown.) 

An Urban Outfitters storefront.

Image source: Urban Outfitters.

When that announcement was made a little over a week ago, it seemed within the realm of possibility that the company's stores could reopen within a few weeks. As of right now, however, it seems very unlikely that Urban Outfitters or any other apparel retailer in the U.S., Canada, or Europe will be reopening its stores in just five days. 

It's a reminder to investors that things are still moving very quickly as companies and governments scramble to respond to the pandemic. 

Now what

Urban Outfitters' shares have had a rough ride since the company missed earnings estimates on March 3. Obviously, the situation has changed drastically since then, and there will almost certainly be more changes over the next few weeks.

But keep this in mind as we move through this crisis: The company had $409.5 million in inventory as of Jan. 31. With brick-and-mortar stores shut down, and the ability to fulfill online orders increasingly limited by state-level restrictions, Urban Outfitters may be forced to offer deep discounts to clear its warehouses whenever it does manage to reopen.

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