Last January, I composed a list of what I considered to be the five most endangered department stores in 2020. I compiled the list two months before the world went into chaos for its various reasons, particularly the pandemic. I made these predictions based on if 2020 was going to be just as normal as years past.
At the beginning of 2020, I compiled a list of what I considered the five most endangered department stores in the United States. I created this list without any idea of the economic annihilation that 2020 would bring, thanks to COVID-19.
Still, I want to update where these stores stand today. I had to prepare myself for what could have been a very tough list to compile. However, I am pleasantly surprised to see that many of these stores are still operating. Four of them seem to be pulling through what are hopefully their toughest times now behind them.
Things were already looking bleak for JCPenney before the pandemic began, as the company was reporting an $11billion loss in revenue for 2019 alone. By May, the company had filed for bankruptcy protection. It is currently owned by Simon Property Group and Brookfield Property Partners, in a joint venture worth $800million. It is currently in the process of finding a new headquarters.
4) Lord and Taylor
Lord and Taylor was one of the oldest department store chains in the United States, but suffered greatly in recent years. It even saw its grandiose flagship store sold to WeWork in 2019, prior to the pandemic. Owned by fashion rental company Le Tote, the store had planned to close every location by 2020. However, this has been slowed due to “having favorable inventory levels throughout the holiday season.”
All in-store shopping is expected to be completed by February 2021, and its website as of January 2021 is under construction.
3) Saks Fifth Avenue
Saks Fifth Avenue still has a place among upscale shoppers, with 45 strategically placed locations around the world. This includes its flagship store in New York City still operating. The chain took great measures to make sure customer safety remained key after reopening their stores.
2) Neiman Marcus
STATUS: EMERGED FROM BANKRUPTCY
Neiman Marcus filed for bankruptcy protection during the COVID-19 pandemic in May 2020. But as of September 2020, the chain has emerged from bankruptcy, and has come back to the surface. It is now owned in a group effort by Davidson Kempner Capital Management, Sixth Street Partners,and Pacific Investment Management. The company still operates 39 stores.
Yes, in 2021, you can still come see the softer side of Sears! The loss of billions of dollars, bankruptcy, and eventual saving by ESL Investments hedge fund, wasn’t enough to destroy the legendary chain. Sears still has anywhere between 50-80 stores still in business. I was prepared to say goodbye to the legendary chain at any point last year, even prior to the pandemic. But it just keeps on plugging away, and may make it through the year.