A story about one of the retail chains (J.C. Penny) releasing the list of stores closing in 2017 crossed paths with my Feedly reading list today and jogged my memory that there were a number of chains closing many of their doors this year and I wanted to see the impact that might have on various states.


options(knitr.table.format = "html")
update_geom_font_defaults(font_rc_light, size = 2.75)

“Closing” lists of four major retailers — K-Mart, Sears, Macy’s and J.C. Penny — abound (HTML formatting a list seems to be the “easy way out” story-wise for many blogs and newspapers). We can dig a bit deeper than just a plain set of lists, but first we need the data.

The Boston Globe has a nice, predictable, mostly-uniform pattern to their list-closing “stories”, so we’ll use that data. Site content can change quickly, so it makes sense to try to cache content whenever possible as we scrape it. To that end, we’ll use httr::GET vs xml2::read_html since GET preserves all of the original request and response information and read_html returns an external pointer that has no current support for serialization without extra work.

closings <- list(
  kmart = "https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/01/05/the-full-list-kmart-stores-closing-around/4kJ0YVofUWHy5QJXuPBAuM/story.html",
  sears = "https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/01/05/the-full-list-sears-stores-closing-around/yHaP6nV2C4gYw7KLhuWuFN/story.html",
  macys = "https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/01/05/the-full-list-macy-stores-closing-around/6TY8a3vy7yneKV1nYcwY7K/story.html",
    jcp = "https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2017/03/17/the-full-list-penney-stores-closing-around/vhoHjI3k75k2pSuQt2mZpO/story.html"

saved_pgs <- "saved_store_urls.rds"

if (file.exists(saved_pgs)) {
  pgs <- read_rds(saved_pgs)