Rue21 is bucking the store closing trend by opening three new locations this month.
The news comes on the heels of the release of June retail sales from the U.S. Census Bureau, which reported overall June retail sales up 7.5% seasonally adjusted from May and up 1.1% year over year, marketing the first year-over-year gain since February.
Clothing and clothing accessory stores, specifically, were up 105.1% from May to June when seasonally adjusted.
"During this unprecedented time, belts were tightened -- but the executive team continued to strategize and collaborate in order to prepare for pent up customer demand," said interim CEO John Fleming, in a statement. "We fully expected all areas of commerce to take a hit, but to our surprise, our customers were anxious to purchase affordable, fashion-forward pieces that fit into their new way of life. As a result, we beat out last year's comparables with a record June in terms of gross margin."
The trio of new stores, which will be in South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, bring Rue21’s total count to 673 in 45 states.
Under Fleming’s leadership, who took the role in the beginning of the year, Rue21 has been streamlining promotions, store operations and management structures. The company also recently launched its first free customer loyalty reward program, known as Rue Rewards, online in April and in all stores on July 9.
Rue21 had been ahead of the contactless-friendly buy-online-pickup-in-store trend, having made it part of its digital strategy well before the pandemic.