The running list of 2021 retail bankruptcies
The pace of bankruptcies in retail hit a high-water mark last year, after years of elevated filings that tracked with a major shakeout in the industry.
In the years leading up to 2020, those retailers that were forced to reorganize, sell themselves or liquidate entirely were typically the heavily indebted, often from private equity buyouts. The pandemic's massive disruption to sales and consumer demand brought financial strain, and sometimes ruin, to a much wider swath of the industry. Retailers that might have chugged along for years filed as they ran into liquidity shortages or faced eviction over unpaid rent.
COVID-19 is still with us. So are all of its consumer habit-changing effects. While millions have already been vaccinated, with the number jumping every day, millions more are still avoiding offices, parties, travel and all manner of other social events. The tide could shift over the course of the year, which means consumers could start refreshing their wardrobes and return to stores in greater numbers. But there are still many unknowns in the year ahead.
Retail companies are still under strain. According to BDO survey data, 42% of retail CFOs reported that they expect to restructure or reorganize as fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic persists into 2021. That can mean a lot of things, but it includes bankruptcy. A similar share of CFOs said they expect revenue declines in the year ahead.
To stay out of bankruptcy court, retailers will need liquidity and working capital, they'll need to adapt to an ever-shifting landscape that is more digital than ever before, and they'll need some luck. Already this year, some companies have come up short, and more are likely to follow.