22 Companies That Have Filed for Bankruptcy Since the Pandemic Began — and 16 That Could Be Next

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Pizza Hut Now

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Pandemic Bankruptcies So Far

Retailers had a brutal 2019, and while predictions for 2020 were similarly grim, they didn’t include the coronavirus. Now a growing number of companies are waving a white flag as COVID-19 wreaks havoc on not just retail, but other parts of the global economy. Here are some of the most prominent companies to file for bankruptcy since mid-March, including two announced this week, and a slew of big names that are at risk of following.

Related: 50 Events That Made Retail History Before the Pandemic

Wendy's

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NPC International

The largest operator of iconic fast-food brands Pizza Hut and Wendy’s has been on shaky footing since the beginning of the year, with a debt burden approaching $1 billion. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Wednesday.

Related: Best Cheap Delivery Pizza

Cirque du Soleil

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Cirque du Soleil

The legendary producer of mind-bending acrobatics shows in Las Vegas and elsewhere announced Monday that it has filed for bankruptcy and is laying off about 3,500 people. Cirque du Soleil attributed the moves to challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The company says it hopes to restructure its debt as part of the filing with the help of the Canadian government and private equity firms.

Chuck E. Cheese's

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Chuck E. Cheese

The parent company of this iconic kid’s pizza chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the end of June even as many of its 550 locations reopen across the country. The CEO called COVID-19 and its closures “the most challenging event in our company’s history,” but the company has not said whether it will shut down any locations permanently. 

Related: 12 Places That Kids Love But Parents Hate

In Trouble: GNC

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GNC

The inescapable vitamin retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the end of June, blaming a pandemic-related sales slump and mounting debt, among other factors. The company is putting itself up for sale and says it may close more than 1,200 of its 7,300 stores.

24 Hour Fitness

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24 Hour Fitness

The national fitness chain joined Gold’s Gym in pandemic-related bankruptcy with a Chapter 11 filing in June. The company said its money troubles were a direct result of COVID-19 closings and announced that about 100 of its 400 locations will be permanently shut down as it reorganizes.

Tuesday Morning

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Tuesday Morning

This Dallas-based discount home-goods chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the end of May, saying it was the only way to bounce back from two months of pandemic-related store closings. Part of the reorganization: The company will close 230 of its 700 stores.

LATAM Airlines

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LATAM Airlines

Latin America’s largest carrier has become the latest airline to declare bankruptcy during the pandemic, filing for Chapter 11 protection at the end of May. Unlike chief competitor Avianca, it was on solid financial footing before most flights were grounded, according to Reuters.

Hertz

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Hertz

The rental-car behemoth filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May, saying the pandemic has brought business to a screeching halt as would-be travelers stay home. The company plans to burn through $1 billion in cash on hand to maintain operations while reorganizing. It has already laid off or furloughed 20,000 workers.

Related: Bankruptcy Bargains: Save Over $1,000 Buying These Used Cars From Hertz

JCPenney

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JCPenney

JCPenney has been on retail analysts’ watch list for a while, and the beleaguered department store chain finally filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in mid-May. The company said the pandemic had torpedoed ongoing efforts to bolster its finances. It will be closing 240 stores as part of its restructuring plan.

Related: 30 Things to Buy at JCPenney While You Still Can

Pier 1 Imports

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Pier 1

Although Pier 1 declared bankruptcy in February, before the pandemic had fully taken hold, the company’s hope was to find a buyer to breathe new life into the struggling chain of home goods stores. But Pier 1 said in May that it would close all stores and begin liquidating instead, partially blaming the “uncertainty of a post-COVID world.”

Related: 24 Things to Buy at Pier 1 While You Still Can

Souplantation

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Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes

While most major companies are restructuring in bankruptcy, the parent company of prominent buffet chains Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes is closing all locations for good. Garden Fresh Restaurants filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in mid-May, saying federal regulations forbidding self-service in restaurants made salvaging the business too difficult.

J. Crew

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J. Crew

Preppy-apparel stalwart J. Crew has been in trouble for years, a victim of lower mall foot traffic and the shift to online shopping even as its Madewell brand found a following. It filed in early May for Chapter 11 protection, but experts say that probably would have happened regardless of the pandemic temporarily shuttering stores. The retailer will use $400 million in creditor money to navigate bankruptcy.

Gold's Gym

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Gold's Gym

The pandemic has been crushing for gyms, and Gold’s Gym announced in early May that it was filing for bankruptcy, saying “no single factor” has harmed its business more. Though the chain closed 30 locations permanently in April, the rest of its locations will stay open where permitted as it reorganizes.

Neiman Marcus

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Neiman Marcus

Department stores have long been struggling to adapt to a world increasingly dependent on ecommerce, and the “unprecedented disruption” caused by COVID-19 forced the hand of debt-saddled luxury chain Neiman Marcus. It filed for Chapter 11 protection in early May and says it will draw on $675 million in creditor funds to operate for the next several months while reorganizing.

Related: 18 Iconic Department Stores We Miss

Avianca

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Avianca

This prominent Latin American airline filed for Chapter 11 protection in mid-May, directly citing “the unforeseeable impact” of the pandemic on business. The company says 88% of the countries where it flies are under total or partial travel lockdown, but analysts note that the airline was already in trouble from negative credit ratings and sudden leadership changes.

Stage Stores

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Stage Stores

This parent company of well-known chains including Bealls, Goody’s, and Palais Royal also sought Chapter 11 protection in mid-May, a move being discussed before the pandemic. Although it will seek a buyer, Stage still plans to liquidate inventory at its more than 700 stores as they reopen in the coming weeks.

Hits Keep Coming

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Aldo

This footwear retailer announced in early May that it had filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy protection in the United States and is seeking similar relief in Canada, where it is based, and Switzerland. While it says it had faced challenges before the pandemic, COVID-19 “has put too much pressure on our business and our cash flows.”

Related: 25 Canadian Stores That Americans Love

Frontier Communications

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Frontier Communications

While most communications businesses are well-positioned to survive and even thrive during the pandemic, Frontier Communications filed for Chapter 11 in April, admitting it’s been too slow to upgrade its network, especially as customers expect faster internet speeds. The company has pledged to maintain service while restructuring.

Virgin Australia

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Virgin Australia

Airlines were one of the first industries to feel the pain of COVID-19, and Australia’s second-largest airline filed for bankruptcy in April after the Australian government decided against a $888 million bailout. Founder Richard Branson has also sought help from the U.K. government, even offering his private island estate in the British Virgin Islands as collateral. The airline says it will continue to operate like normal as it restructures.

SpeedCast International

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SpeedCast International

Satellite communications company SpeedCast International, the company likely responsible for the internet connection on your last cruise, filed for bankruptcy in April after sustaining a one-two punch. Cruises have been halted because of the pandemic, and its other major customer, the oil industry, is struggling as oil prices bottom out.

Related: 1 in 4 Avid Cruise Goers: ‘I’ll Never Go on a Cruise Again’

True Religion

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True Religion

Denim giant True Religion filed for bankruptcy in April, its second time restructuring in three years. The company called out COVID-19 specifically for compounding its money crunch and says Chapter 11 will help it stay in business once stores can reopen.

Related: 25 Popular Stores That Could Soon Be Out of Business

Dean & DeLuca

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Dean & DeLuca

Long a shell of its former self, gourmet grocer Dean & DeLuca filed for bankruptcy at the end of March. The grocer, bought by a Thai company in 2014, closed its last remaining store in October and reports that it has one remaining employee and more than a half-million dollars in liabilities. Still, it hopes to restructure and eventually reopen stores in New York City.

Orca whale

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In Trouble: SeaWorld

Like many theme parks, SeaWorld is reopening, but there are rumblings that bankruptcy could be in the cards for the iconic Orlando, Florida-based company. Experts say SeaWorld has missed payments on major construction projects, and others point out that it isn’t as diversified as Disney or Universal, deepening the impact of recent shutdowns.

Brooks Brothers

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In Trouble: Brooks Brothers

Brooks Brothers has been on uncertain footing as employers relax formal dress codes, lessening demand for its pricey suits. The chain hasn’t ruled out bankruptcy and is being courted for a joint purchase by Authentic Brands and prominent mall owner Simon Property Group.

Potbelly

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In Trouble: Potbelly Sandwich Shop

This fast-casual sandwich chain may be exploring ways to restructure in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It already announced in May that it would close as many as 100 locations across the country.

Men's Wearhouse in Miamisburg, Ohio

Men's Wearhouse in Miamisburg, Ohio by Ed! (CC BY-SA)

In Trouble: Tailored Brands

Tailored, which owns Men’s Wearhouse, Jos. A. Bank, and K&G brands, has reportedly “had bankruptcy advisers for months now” as demand for its formalwear plummets.

AMC Theatres

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In Trouble: AMC Theatres

AMC will finally reopen most of its theaters within the next month but “cannot be certain” that it will be able to stay afloat, especially with limited new movie releases and the possibility of more pandemic-related closures.

New York & Company

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In Trouble: New York & Company

The parent company of this women’s fashion retailer, RTW Retailwinds, has acknowledged that a bankruptcy filing is the most likely outcome after losing millions and defaulting on payments to landlords and vendors in the wake of COVID-19 closures.

Sur La Table Storefront

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In Trouble: Sur La Table

One of the nation’s more prominent specialty cookware retailers is reportedly prepping for a bankruptcy filing and seeking a buyer after COVID-19 forced it to shut down stores and cancel its signature cooking classes.

Sears Price-Match Policy

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In Trouble: Sears

Sears barely survived bankruptcy in 2018, so analysts are skeptical that it could emerge from a second round. The once-giant retailer was down to 182 stores in February, and all were closed for the entire month of April.

Related: 35 Things to Get at the Sears Stores That Are Shutting Down

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In Trouble: GameStop

The retailer’s stock has been on a steady decline for seven years as gamers continue to turn to game downloads that don’t require a store visit. At the end of March, the company announced it would be closing 300 stores permanently; it closed a similar number in 2019.

Rite Aid

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In Trouble: Rite Aid

Rite Aid continues to face steep competition from the likes of CVS and Walgreens, as well as big-box stores like Target and Walmart. It also has billions in debt and little ability to diversify, analysts say.

Party City

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In Trouble: Party City

Already struggling after a helium shortage and poor Halloween sales, Party City is in even deeper trouble because of the pandemic and social-distancing guidelines that make most parties a no-go. The company has reportedly hired a firm to help it plan a potential restructuring plan.

Forever 21

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In Trouble: Forever 21

A new owner recently acquired Forever 21, which already filed for bankruptcy last year. While store closings were already in the mix, the pandemic makes the company’s fragile reorganization especially fraught.

In Trouble: L Brands

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In Trouble: L Brands

The parent of Victoria’s Secret recently announced it would close 250 of its lingerie stores as well as 50 Bath & Body Works locations. The company recently parted ways with a private equity firm that it hoped would help save the struggling chains.

Related: 34 Companies That Changed American Culture for Better or Worse

 Norwegian Air

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In Trouble: Norwegian Air

Plenty of airlines could join this list depending on how long travel restrictions cripple business, but Norwegian Air may be among the worst off. It was already struggling before the pandemic, and several of its subsidiaries have already filed for bankruptcy.

Steak 'n Shake

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In Trouble: Steak 'n Shake

Analysts warn that this quick-service staple will have an especially hard time refinancing its loans and avoiding bankruptcy as pandemic-related shutdowns further eat into earnings.

Ann Taylor Loft

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In Trouble: Ascena Retail Group

Best known for mall staples Ann Taylor, Loft, and Lane Bryant, Ascena closed all of its Dressbarn stores last year and has struggled with falling store foot traffic. Its focus on business casual apparel makes it particularly vulnerable as more people work from home, analysts say.

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