These Dying Retail Stores Will Go Bankrupt in 2018

With crippling competition from Amazon and Walmart, struggling retail stores did not experience a healthy 2017. Fifty major chains went bankrupt, including iconic brands Toys “R” Us and Payless Shoes. That’s up from 47 filings in 2016 and 30 in 2014. So, what’s in store for 2018? These are the struggling retailers in grave danger of bankruptcy (including a 100-year-old department store on page 10), as well as the chains who have recently filed.

1. Land’s End

Lands End

The stores have been suffering. | Wolterk/iStock/Getty Images

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 health store with unhealthy debt

2. GNC

GNC store

People are seeking their supplements elsewhere. | Raysonho/Open Grid Scheduler/Grid Engine/Wikimedia Commons

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: See which dollar store lost 8.8 million bucks.

3. 99 Cents Only

99 cents only

Deals weren’t enough to bring in the customers. | Thankstelfair/Wikimedia Commons

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: Guitar heroes are a dying breed.

4. Guitar Center

Guitar Center

Younger generations just aren’t as interested in guitars. | Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images

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.

Next: See another grocery chain that may file suit.

5. Winn-Dixie

Winn Dixie

The chain is closing 100 stores. | PCHS-NJROTC/Wikimedia Commons

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: Rumors of bankruptcy for another shoe retailer

6. Nine West

nine west

It’s trying to restructure its debt.| Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for InStyle

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: Brides may need to shop elsewhere.

7. David’s Bridal

David's Bridal

The bridal industry is seeing a change up.| hattiesburgmemory/Wikimedia Commons

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: Another brand that may waffle too much

8. J. Crew

J. Crew

Sales are tanking. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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: A once-mighty retail giant continues to fall.

9. Sears Holdings

Sears Holdings

It’s no longer the giant it once was. | Felixmizioznikov/iStock/Getty Images

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: This 100-year-old department store may likely die in 2018.

10. Bon-Ton

Bon-Ton store

Competition killed Bon-Ton. | Shuvaev/Wikimedia Commons

Historically, Bon-Ton department stores were located in smaller towns where there wasn’t much competition, but this changed once Amazon entered the fray. 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: A department store with a high bankruptcy risk

11. Neiman Marcus

Neiman Marcus

They’re one of the nearest to bankruptcy. | Eric Broder Van Dyke/iStock/Getty Images

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 grocery chain buckled under heavy debt.

12. Tops Markets

Tops friendly market

Th grocery chain filed for bankruptcy in February. | Buffaboy/Wikimedia Commons

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: A luxury dress shoe brand has morphed.

13. Cole Haan

Cole Haan

The luxury shoes aren’t selling. | Ethan Miller/Getty Images for 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.

14. Charlotte Russe

Charlotte Russe

The store is struggling to avoid bankruptcy. | Corey Coyle/Wikimedia Commons

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: A mall store popular among young girls is threatened.

15. Claire’s


Tweens just aren’t going to the mall like they used to. | David McNew/Getty Images

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.

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