A post from earlier this year speculated that 2017 could be the year of retail bankruptcies. Payless Shoes has become 2017’s first bankruptcy casualty in the retail world. On April 4, Payless filed for Chapter 11 and announced the closing of 400 stores immediately. That’s just under 10% of Payless’s 4,400 stores worldwide. Payless said it expects the closures to reduce its debt by nearly 50%.
A number of retailers are closing locations. These include Sears, JC Penney, Radio Shack, Wet Seal, Chicos, Abercrombie & Fitch, Finish Line, Crocs, Macy’s and Office Depot. Sears is in such dire straits that its most recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission stated that there was “serious doubt” that it could remain in business.
Looking at this list, it doesn’t take a lot of imagination or foresight to see that the days of the shopping malls are also numbered. Sears, Macy’s and JC Penney have long been the anchor tenants in malls, with the other retailers lining the broad hallways. Late-stage Baby Boomers and Gen Xers who grew up in the 70s, 80s and 90s are witnessing the demise of an entire way of life, just as their parents and grandparents saw the neighborhood markets and main street businesses disappear when the malls opened in the suburbs.