The year 2017 was just not a healthy time for struggling retail stores. Fifty major chains went bankrupt, including iconic brands Toys “R” Us and Payless Shoes. That’s up from 47 filings in 2016 and just 30 in 2014. Department stores and other longtime retailers have been crippled by competition from Amazon and Walmart.
What’s in store for 2018? The retail apocalypse likely isn’t letting up. Here we’ll look at retailers that have already filed for bankruptcy in 2018 and others in grave danger of following suit.
Historically, Bon-Ton department stores were in smaller towns where there wasn’t much competition — but once Amazon entered the fray, this changed. The company, which operates Carson’s, Elder-Beerman, Herberger’s, and Younkers, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Feb. 4. It’s the largest retailer to go bankrupt so far in 2018. The chain is $1 billion in debt and will shutter more than 40 stores nationwide.
Next: See which grocery chain buckled under heavy debt.
2. Tops Markets
As households move to nontraditional food retailers, Tops Markets is buckling under unsustainable debt fueled by falling food prices and stiff competition. The grocery retailer filed for bankruptcy on Feb. 21, 2018. It plans to keep operating its 169 supermarkets in New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. The company has acquired $265 million in loans.
Next: See another grocery chain that may file suit.
Supermarket company Bi-Lo, which owns the Winn-Dixie chain, plans to close at least 100 stores in a potential bankruptcy, according to anonymous sources, Bloomberg reported on Feb. 16, 2018. The company is $1 billion in debt, the report said. This would be the retailer’s third bankruptcy. (Previous ones were filed in 2005 and 2009.) Reports say it plans to shut almost 200 stores.
Next: A once-mighty retail giant continues to fall.
4. Sears Holdings
A 2018 bankruptcy may be imminent as Sears continues its downward spiral. The former retail giant was once a common household name yet now is just a shadow of its former self. Sales have been declining for almost a decade as the retailer closed more stores and laid off employees. Feuding with its Craftsman tools brand supplier and cutting ties with Whirlpool may have put more nails in the coffin.
Next: Sears may also bring down this clothing retailer.
5. Land’s End
Land’s End suffers due to its former association with the beleaguered Sears — which spun off the company in 2013. While the catalog still sees strong sales, the waters were muddied under leadership of former CEO Federica Marchionni. She reintroduced the Canvas brand, which failed to resonate among core customers. The retailer is considered at risk of defaulting on a $498 million loan.
Next: A mall store popular among young girls is threatened.
Countless women who grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s remember getting their ears pierced at this teen-oriented jewelry store. Founded in 1961, it’s been a staple in malls for decades. However, it’s now struggling (it pulled the plug on its IPO) and received a recent poor rating from Moody’s, signaling a 2018 bankruptcy could be on the way.
Next: A luxury dress shoe brand has morphed.
7. Cole Haan
Founded in 1928, Cole Haan was a luxury-leaning dress shoe brand, but its website today prominently sells sports shoes. Maybe parent company Calceus Holdings feels the need to change with the times, but it’s been identified by USA Today as one of the 26 retailers most at risk in 2018. The brand is sold in standalone shops as well as at Zappos, Nordstrom, Shoe Carnival, Macy’s, and other department stores.
Next: A budget fashion retailer suffers.
8. Charlotte Russe
This budget women’s clothing retailer describes its brand as “fashion that’s trendy, not spendy!” This mall staple has seen better days, however. In December 2017, it sought to avoid bankruptcy by seeking a break on store rents. It also reduced its long-term debt from $214 million to $90 million. Only time will tell whether these efforts are strong enough to keep things afloat.
Next: Another brand that may waffle too much
9. J. Crew
J. Crew is another once-popular brand falling victim to decreased mall foot traffic. Sales are in a tailspin, and the company announced plans in late 2017 to close 50 stores. The ailing retailer has been criticized for waffling between affordable yet preppy clothes and higher-end items. Moody’s recently gave the company a low rating, signaling a high bankruptcy risk.
Next: Brides may need to shop elsewhere.
10. David’s Bridal
The bridal sector saw one bankruptcy in 2017 when Alfred Angelo abruptly shut down. Another filing may surface from David’s Bridal. The company offered discounts to the brides who had purchased Alfred Angelo gowns but hadn’t received them. Moody’s stated in 2017 that the retailer’s promotional efforts to improve profit might not be sufficient.
Next: A department store with a high bankruptcy risk
11. Neiman Marcus
Luxury department store Neiman Marcus is among the retailers with the highest near-term bankruptcy risk (as high as 50%), according to CreditRiskMonitor. This is based on stock volatility, credit ratings, and financial metrics. The ailing retailer is $4.8 billion in debt and has seen successive quarterly losses since the first quarter of 2017.
Next: See which dollar store lost 8.8 million bucks.
12. 99 Cents Only
Shoppers in the southwestern U.S. may get the most bang for their buck at a 99 Cents Only store. But the ailing discount chain, which operates 391 stores, is on Retail Dive’s list of 12 major retailers that could go bankrupt. In the first quarter of fiscal 2018, it racked up an $8.8 million net loss. However, net losses have been narrowing, so only time will tell if a bankruptcy is in store.
Next: Rumors of bankruptcy for another shoe retailer
13. Nine West
Nine West is in negotiations to restructure its $1.5 billion in debt, Bloomberg reported on Jan. 24, 2018. This includes a Chapter 11 bankruptcy and selling off parts of its business, according to reports. The beleaguered shoe retailer continues to lose market share. It has sold off its Easy Spirit brand and shuttered most of its stores, with only 25 remaining open. The company’s debt exceeds 19 times adjusting earnings, Moody’s reported.
Next: A health store with unhealthy debt
The specialty vitamin and supplement retailer saw its share price fall 66% during 2017, as investors lost confidence in its ability to change with the challenging times. The company is operating under a massive pile of $1.38 billion long-term debt — with only $40 million in cash on the books. That debt will start coming due as soon as September 2018. A bankruptcy would likely prompt both investors and suppliers to flee.
Next: Guitar heroes are a dying breed.
15. Guitar Center
Guitar Center has been around more than 50 years and is the world’s largest retailer of guitars and other musical instruments. While it has a year to refinance $900 million in debt, Moody’s expects the company will remain stable. However, electric guitar sales dropped 36% from 2005 to 2016 — leaving both guitar makers and sellers suffering. Today’s younger generation just isn’t buying guitars.
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