- RadioShack, American Apparel, Borders, Blockbuster, Sears, and Forever 21 are among the many retail companies that have filed for bankruptcy over the past decade.
- Some retailers emerged from bankruptcy with smaller physical footprints, while others ended up liquidating.
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Dozens of retailers filed for bankruptcy over the past decade amid colossal changes in Americans’ consumption habits.
The bankruptcies spanned a broad spectrum of retailers, including RadioShack, American Apparel, Borders, Blockbuster, and Sears.
Many of these bankruptcies resulted in mass store closings that have helped send hundreds of shopping malls into years-long downward spirals, from which some malls never recovered.
Some retailers emerged from bankruptcy with smaller physical footprints, while others ended up liquidating.
Here are some of the biggest bankruptcies of the past decade.
Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy protection in 2010 as it battled the growing popularity of Netflix, Redbox kiosks, and other video-on-demand services.
At its peak in 2005, the video and DVD rental chain had more than 9,100 stores globally. By 2014, the company had closed most of its stores. Only one Blockbuster now remains open in Bend, Oregon.
Borders had about 642 stores, including 100 Waldenbooks locations, when it filed for bankruptcy protection in February 2011. Within seven months, the bookstore chain had liquidated all its stores.
The electronics retailer HH Gregg filed for bankruptcy protection in March 2017 and failed to find a buyer for its business. The company announced in April 2017 that it would liquidate all its remaining stores.
Toys R Us
Toys R Us filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September 2017 and by the following year closed all its stores in the US and the UK.
Since then, two new Toys R Us stores have been opened by Tru Kids, a company created in February that owns the Toys R Us and Babies R Us brands.
RadioShack filed for bankruptcy (for the second time in two years) in 2017 and closed 1,000 stores. The electronics retailer later emerged from bankruptcy and opened dozens of “RadioShack Express” locations inside HobbyTown stores.
Rue21 filed for bankruptcy protection in May 2017 and closed more than 400 stores over the next several months. The company emerged from the proceedings in September of that year with about 750 stores remaining.
Mattress Firm filed for bankruptcy in October 2018 and emerged from the proceedings about a month later after closing 660 stores.
Brookstone filed for bankruptcy in August 2018 and said it would close all its 101 mall-based stores. The company emerged from bankruptcy in 2019 with its 30 airport-based shops remaining in operation.
The Bon-Ton Stores
The Bon-Ton Stores operated department stores under the banners Bon-Ton, Bergner’s, Carson’s, Younkers, Herberger’s, Boston Store, and Elder-Beerman. The company filed for bankruptcy in February 2018 and later liquidated all its stores.
The women’s clothing retailer The Limited filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2017 and shut down all 250 of its stores.
Sears filed for bankruptcy in October 2018 with about 700 Sears and Kmart stores. The company’s former CEO, Eddie Lampert, purchased the company out of bankruptcy four months later through Transformco, a subsidiary of Lampert’s hedge fund, ESL Investments.
Since then, Sears has closed hundreds more stores and the company has executed several rounds of corporate layoffs. After the most recent round of closings, 182 Sears and Kmart stores will remain in operation.
Payless filed for bankruptcy in February 2019 and said it planned to close all of its 2,500 stores in what could be the largest retail liquidation in history.
Charlotte Russe kicked off closing sales at 94 stores in February 2019, after the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. In March, the company announced that it would liquidate its remaining 416 Charlotte Russe stores and 10 Peek Kids stores.
Shopko filed for bankruptcy in January 2019 and said it would close 251 stores. The company said in March that it had failed to find a buyer for its business and would liquidate its remaining 120 stores.
From April 2019 to July 2019, the discount chain Fred’s announced plans to close more than 440 stores. In September 2019, the company filed for bankruptcy and said it would close all its remaining stores within 60 days.
Destination Maternity filed for bankruptcy protection in October 2019, and said it planned to shutter 183 stores in the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico. The company had previously closed 75 stores in 2019.