During the past few years, numerous big-name retailers have filed for bankruptcy, from the storied department store operator Sears to Toys ‘R’ Us to Pier 1 Imports. Accompanying those filings are thousands of store closings.
Retail goes through cycles, more so than any industry, but what makes this current cycle so different is that it is was occurring while the economy was growing. Typically, store closures and bankruptcies on this scale accompany recessions.
Despite the lack of a downturn, stores that didn’t adapt to the rapid changes in how we buy, what we buy and where we buy did so at their own peril.
Some outlets were done in by the shift to ecommerce, a slow death by a thousand cuts that began toward the end of the 1990s. Others saw their businesses fail due to massive debt loads, leaving them with little money to reinvest.
For still others, it was an increasingly competitive landscape—Walmart pouring money into going toe-to-toe with Amazon, for instance, or direct-to-consumer brands taking market share from legacy brands.
Now retail faces its greatest challenge in modern times, exceeding that of the Great Recession, as the global coronavirus pandemic forces many retailers to temporarily close locations for an indefinite period.
Here, Adweek takes a look at the bankruptcies, closures and restructurings facing retailers today. Check back for updates.