The list of endangered retailers continues to grow this year. Many companies that actually exited bankruptcy in the past are now being threatened by it again, while others that proved resiliency and stability for decades are struggling with debt, weak revenue, and higher competition and may have to shut doors for good in the next few months. Forbes analysts say that a bankruptcy wave was already expected.
The only surprising thing about it is that it didn’t happen sooner. For many iconic companies, this will be the end of an era. And for many Americans, this crisis will result in some lamentable losses of favorite stores, brands, and products.
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For example, after witnessing the bankruptcy and outright collapse of rival Cineworld, shares of AMC dropped by 38% in a single day. During the pandemic, the world’s largest movie theater chain became a meme stock and retail investors pushed its stock up more than 1,000%. Unfortunately, from that point on, things have only gone downhill for the entertainment retailer.
A series of controversies have emerged, including allegations that Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX may have manipulated AMC stock. More recently, Robinhood warned investors that the company was about to file for bankruptcy – which AMC later said wasn’t true. Well, at least for the time being because conditions continue to deteriorate from the chain. In February, its quarterly loss shot up to $287 million, and overall revenues fell again. The retailer is still in a very vulnerable position, and the current economic challenges may push it over the edge.
Similarly, 130-year-old teen-targeting clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch may actually be in its final year. The impact of inflation in 2022 caused a higher-than-expected plunge in sales and almost 150 store closings. Deutsche Bank analyst Tiffany Kanaga said that the institution is “highly skeptical of Abercrombie’s ability to stabilize its gross profit margin against this competitive mall backdrop.” The retailer is trying to move its operations to online platforms as its brick-and-mortar business falls apart.
Moreover, High-end department store chain Macy’s isn’t new in bankruptcy court. If first filed for bankruptcy in 1992, filing for a second time one decade later, in 2003. If anything, the timing of the filings reveals just how sensitive the company is to economic downturns and this time is no different. In 2020, Macy’s dodged bankruptcy by securing $4.5 billion in financing, but the scenario drastically changed in 2023. In the past few months, the chain has reported store shutdowns, and sales declines both in physical and online stores. A looming change in leadership is also fueling rumors that Macy’s is preparing to go out of business in the coming months.
Once again, JCPenney is on the verge of bankruptcy. In the first quarter of 2020, it filed for Chapter 11 protection to restructure its $4 billion debt, exiting bankruptcy in November, when two firms rescued the department store. Since then, the company hasn’t released financial reports, insisting that it is now on “solid footing.” But data released by Retail Dive shows ongoing volatility under its post-bankruptcy ownership.
The months ahead will be exceedingly difficult for US businesses. This is the time to show support to our favorite brands because they may be gone from our economic landscape before we even notice. The retail collapse has only just begun, and thousands of companies will continue to die right before our eyes. Today, we decided to compile the businesses that recently indicated they may be going out of business by year’s end.
Article and video cross-posted from the Epic Economist.
Here’s the list:
- Abercrombie & Fitch
- Barnes & Noble
- American Eagle Outfitters
- Forever 21
- Foot Locker
- J. Jill
- Casper Sleep
- Alex and Ani
- Brooks Brothers
- Tailored Brands
Will any of these fall in the second half of the year? Some of them? All of them? We’ll see.