Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Opinion
Sarah Halzack

2020’s Retail Wipeouts Warn of Permanent Pain

From Lord & Taylor’s liquidation to the bankruptcies at Lucky Brand and Brooks Brothers, it was a horrible year for apparel sellers. Expect more carnage.

The pandemic forced some retailers into bankruptcy. For Lord & Taylor, it meant liquidation. 

The pandemic forced some retailers into bankruptcy. For Lord & Taylor, it meant liquidation. 

Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

It’s been a tough year for all sorts of businesses. For clothing stores, 2020 has been extraordinarily grim.

The lockdowns in the spring took a considerable toll, of course. But even in June, as nonessential retailers were beginning to reopen their doors and, in some cases, reported upbeat signals about returning foot traffic, the worst was not over for apparel chains. In fact, it was just getting started. July and August brought a raft of failures: Lucky Brand, Brooks Brothers, and Ann Taylor’s parent company filed for bankruptcy; so did New York & Co.’s corporate parent as well as the storied department store Lord & Taylor, which soon resulted in those two chains liquidating. The pain continues: Francesca’s, a women’s clothier with 558 stores, filed for bankruptcy this month.