The year 2020 indeed brought about a series of unprecedented challenges and changes, including the untimely death of NBA star Kobe Bryant, the global coronavirus pandemic, and civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd. These events had profound effects on various aspects of society, including the economy and the retail industry.
One notable casualty of these economic challenges is Lord & Taylor, America’s oldest department store chain, which had been in business for nearly two centuries. Struggling in the face of the pandemic and shifting consumer preferences toward online shopping, the company ultimately filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Initially, they had planned to keep fourteen locations open. However, due to the ongoing economic difficulties, they have decided to close all 38 of their stores in a desperate liquidation sale.
Lord & Taylor’s history dates back to 1824 when it opened its doors in Manhattan as the first department store in the United States, specializing in dry goods. Over the years, it continued to innovate and serve generations of American shoppers until it was sold to the French clothing company, Le Tote Inc., in 2019. Both Lord & Taylor and Le Tote Inc. filed for bankruptcy in August 2020.
The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been devastating for many businesses. In addition to Lord & Taylor, several other longstanding and iconic retailers have faced financial difficulties and store closures, including Brooks Brothers, J. Crew, J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus, Stage Stores, Ann Taylor, and Lane Bryant, to name a few. Some of these companies have filed for bankruptcy protection or had to significantly restructure their operations.
The economic landscape is undoubtedly changing, and these developments raise questions about how the retail industry will evolve and adapt in the coming years. Vacant storefronts, once occupied by historic businesses, will need new tenants or purposes, and the recovery of the American economy remains a significant concern for many.