Chain Stores That Fell Victim to COVID-19


Image Credit: Gerard Nifras

Gerard Nifras, Staff Writer

The phrase “Everything Must Go” coupled with sky-rocketing sales spells catastrophe. This ominous scenario was illustrated in recent Lord and Taylor commercials, which elicited concern in shoppers who had faith in its financial endurance for years. As somebody who witnessed the distribution of faux furs, rugs, and even mannequins in person, the decay that the coronavirus evoked on small business owners does not spare chain stores. The company woefully closed its 38 remaining stores as it struggled to liquidize sales online. While Lord and Taylor closes its doors forever, other chains are still fighting to survive.

For instance, California Pizza Kitchen fell victim to the virus. On July 30,2020 it filed for voluntary Chapter 11 protection, which allowed it to close unprofitable locations, reduce long-term debt, and emerge stronger. Luckily, their lenders had faith in them as an ongoing business that thrived for over 35 years. Similarly, JC Penney is still alive and kicking. They filed on May 15, 2020 as a part of its restructuring plan to eliminate billions of dollars of debt. Although they plan to close stores, they did not indicate locations, which proved its “significant progress” in paying it off, according to its CEO. Truly, there is still hope for some large chain stores.

Unfortunately, not all can recover.  In particular, Century 21, a 60-year old apparel company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy announcing it will be shutting all of its 13 locations in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Florida. In a statement obtained by Fox 5 New York, Century 21 claimed that it could have stood a chance against the cataclysmic financial storm had it received the insurance money it was owed, which was denied to them at the most crucial time.

As a result, thousands of jobs and its impressive 60-year streak were lost. Worse, Brooks Brothers, the “country’s oldest clothing retailer,” a 2-century-old luxurious retailer which clothed 40 US presidents,  filed bankruptcy on July 8, 2020 closing 51 of its stores. This is a chilling reminder of why Toys R Us shut down. While it suffered (a second time) long before this pandemic, it lacked the online market powerful enough to stand a chance against companies like Amazon, whose inventory is riddled with toys, appliances, and more.

In short, small businesses and family businesses are not the only victims at the mercy of COVID 19!